Objective: To evaluate the feasibility, safety, and tolerability of noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) for the prevention of chronic migraine (CM) attacks. Methods: In this first prospective, multicenter, double-blind, sham-controlled pilot study of nVNS in CM prophylaxis, adults with CM (≥15 headache d/mo) entered the baseline phase (1 month) and were subsequently randomized to nVNS or sham treatment (2 months) before receiving open-label nVNS treatment (6 months). The primary endpoints were safety and tolerability. Efficacy endpoints in the intent-to-treat population included change in the number of headache days per 28 days and acute medication use. Results: Fifty-nine participants (mean age, 39.2 years; mean headache frequency, 21.5 d/mo) were enrolled. During the randomized phase, tolerability was similar for nVNS (n 30) and sham treatment (n 29). Most adverse events were mild/moderate and transient. Mean changes in the number of headache days were -1.4 (nVNS) and -0.2 (sham) (Δ 1.2; p 0.56). Twenty-seven participants completed the open-label phase. For the 15 completers initially assigned to nVNS, the mean change from baseline in headache days after 8 months of treatment was -7.9 (95% confidence interval -11.9 to -3.8; p < 0.01). Conclusions: Therapy with nVNS was well-tolerated with no safety issues. Persistent prophylactic use may reduce the number of headache days in CM; larger sham-controlled studies are needed. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01667250. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class II evidence that for patients with CM, nVNS is safe, is well-tolerated, and did not significantly change the number of headache days. This pilot study lacked the precision to exclude important safety issues or benefits of nVNS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology