Vidian Neurectomy for Management of Chronic Cluster Headache

Neurosurgery. 2019 May 1;84(5):1059-1064. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyy136.


Background: Management of chronic cluster headache (CCH) remains a challenging endeavor, and the optimal surgical approach for medically refractory CCH remains controversial.

Objective: To conduct a preliminary evaluation of the efficacy and safety of vidian neurectomy (VN) in patients with medically refractory CCH.

Methods: Between March 2013 and December 2015, 9 CCH patients, all of whom had failed to respond to conservative therapy, underwent VN with a precise nerve cut and maximal preservation of the sphenopalatine ganglion. Data included demographic variables, cluster headache onset and duration, mean attack frequency, mean attack intensity, and pain disability index measures pre- and through 12-mo postsurgery.

Results: Seven of the 9 cases (77.8%) showed immediate improvement. Improvement was delayed by 1 mo in 1 patient, after which the surgical effects of pain relief were maintained throughout the follow-up period. One patient (11.1%) did not improve after surgery. One year after VN, patients' mean attack frequency, mean attack intensity, and pain disability index decreased by 54.5%, 52.9%, and 56.4%, respectively. No patient experienced treatment-related side effects or complications.

Conclusion: VN is an effective treatment method for CCH patients. Precise Vidian nerve identification and maximal preservation of the sphenopalatine ganglion may achieve good surgical outcomes and dramatically improve quality of life among patients, without significant adverse events.

Keywords: Chronic cluster headache; Greater superficial petrosal nerve; Nervus intermedius; Sphenopalatine ganglion; Vidian neurectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cluster Headache / surgery*
  • Denervation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome