The Effect of Regional Anesthetic Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block on Self-Reported Pain in Patients With Status Migrainosus

Headache. 2019 Jan;59(1):69-76. doi: 10.1111/head.13390. Epub 2018 Jul 25.


Background: Status migrainosus (SM) is defined as a debilitating migraine attack lasting more than 72 hours in patients previously known to suffer from migraine headache. Typically, these attacks fail to respond to over the counter and abortive medications. The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) plays a critical role in propagating both pain and the autonomic symptoms commonly associated with migraines. SPG block via transnasal lidocaine is moderately effective in reducing migraine symptoms, but this approach is often poorly tolerated and the results are inconsistent. We proposed that an SPG block using a suprazygomatic injection approach would be a safe and effective option to abort or alleviate pain and autonomic symptoms of SM.

Methods: Through a retrospective records review, we identified patients with a well-established diagnosis of migraine, based on the International Headache Society criteria. Patients selected for study inclusion were diagnosed with SM, had failed to respond to 2 or more abortive medications, and had received a suprazygomatic SPG block. Patients had also been asked to rate their pain on a 1-10 Likert scale, both before and 30 minutes after the injection.

Results: Eighty-eight consecutive patients (20 men and 68 women) received a total of 252 suprazygomatic SPG block procedures in the outpatient headache clinic after traditional medications failed to abort their SM. At 30 minutes following the injections, there was a 67.2% (±26.6%) reduction in pain severity with a median reduction of 5 points (IQR= -6 to -3) on the Likert scale (ranging from 1 to 10). Overall, patients experienced a statistically significant reduction in pain severity (P < .0001).

Conclusion: The SPG is known to play an integral role in the pathophysiology of facial pain and the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, although its exact role in the generation and maintenance of migraine headache remains unclear. Regional anesthetic suprazygomatic SPG block is potentially effective for immediate relief of SM. We believe the procedure is simple to perform and has minimal risk.

Keywords: migraine therapy; migraines; sphenopalatine ganglion; sphenopalatine ganglion block; status migrainosus; suprazygomatic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ropivacaine / therapeutic use
  • Self Report
  • Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Ropivacaine
  • Dexamethasone