Remote Electrical Neuromodulation Linked to Reduced Migraine Days

Use of a remote electrical neuromodulation device every other day helped patients significantly reduce the number of migraine days compared with a placebo device, according to recent research published in the journal Headache.

Dr Stewart J. Tepper

The results of the prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial showed that remote electrical neuromodulation (REN) with Nerivio (Theranica Bio-Electronics Ltd.; Bridgewater, N.J.) decreased the number of migraine days by an average of 2.7 days per month, according to Stewart J. Tepper MD, of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., and colleagues.

“The statistically significant results were maintained in separate subanalyses of the chronic and episodic subsamples, as well as in the separate subanalyses of participants who used and did not use migraine prophylaxis,” Dr. Tepper and colleagues wrote.

A nonpharmacological alternative

Researchers randomized 248 participants into active and placebo groups, with 95 participants in the active group and 84 participants in the placebo group meeting the criteria for a modified intention-to-treat (mITT) analysis. Most of the participants in the ITT dataset were women (85.9%) with an average age of 41.7 years, and a baseline average of 12.2 migraine days and 15.6 headache days. Overall, 52.4% of participants in the ITT dataset had chronic migraine, 25.0% had migraine with aura, and 41.1% were taking preventative medication.

Dr. Tepper and colleagues followed participants for 4 weeks at baseline for observation followed by 8 weeks of participants using the REN device every other day for 45 minutes, or a placebo device that “produces electrical pulses of the same maximum intensity (34 mA) and overall energy, but with different pulse durations and much lower frequencies compared with the active device.” Participants completed a daily diary where they recorded their symptoms.

Researchers assessed the mean change in number of migraine days per month as a primary outcome, and evaluated participants who experienced episodic and chronic migraines separately in subgroup analyses. Secondary outcome measures included mean change in number of moderate or severe headache days, 50% reduction in mean number of headache days compared with baseline, Headache Impact Test short form (HIT-6) and Migraine Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MSQ) Role Function Domain total score mean change at 12 weeks compared with week 1, and reduction in mean number of days taking acute headache or migraine medication.

Participants receiving REN treatment had a significant reduction in mean migraine days per month compared with the placebo group (4.0 days vs. 1.3 days; 95% confidence interval, –3.9 days to –1.5 days; P < .001). In subgroup analyses, a significant reduction in migraine days was seen in participants receiving REN treatment with episodic migraine (3.2 days vs. 1.0 days; P = .003) and chronic migraine (4.7 days vs. 1.6 days; P = .001) compared with placebo.

Dr. Tepper and colleagues found a significant reduction in moderate and/or severe headache days among participants receiving REN treatment compared with placebo (3.8 days vs. 2.2 days; P = .005), a significant reduction in headache days overall compared with placebo (4.5 days vs. 1.8 days; P < .001), a significant percentage of patients who experienced 50% reduction in moderate and/or severe headache days compared with placebo (51.6% vs. 35.7%; P = .033), and a significant reduction in acute medication days compared with placebo (3.5 days vs. 1.4 days; P = .001). Dr. Tepper and colleagues found no serious device-related adverse events in either group.

The researchers noted that REN therapy is a “much-needed nonpharmacological alternative” to other preventive and acute treatments for migraine. “Given the previously well-established clinical efficacy and high safety profile in acute treatment of migraine, REN can cover the entire treatment spectrum of migraine, including both acute and preventive treatments,” they said.

‘A good place to start’

Commenting on the study, Alan M. Rapoport, MD, clinical professor of neurology at University of California, Los Angeles; past president of the International Headache Society; and editor-in-chief of Neurology Reviews, said the study was well designed, but acknowledged the 8-week follow-up time for participants as one potential area where he would have wanted to see more data.

As a medical device cleared for use by the Food and Drug Administration for acute treatment of migraine, the REM device also appears to be effective as a migraine preventative based on the results of the study with “virtually no adverse events,” he noted.

“I think this is a great treatment. I think it’s a good place to start,” Dr. Rapoport said. Given the low adverse event rate, he said he would be willing to offer the device to patients as a first option for preventing migraine and either switch to another preventative option or add an additional medication in combination based on how the patient responds. However, at the moment, he noted that this device is not covered by insurance.

Now that a REN device has been shown to work in the acute setting and as a preventative, Dr. Rapoport said he is interested in seeing other devices that have been cleared by the FDA as migraine treatments evaluated in migraine prevention. “I think we need more patients tried on the devices so we get an idea of which ones work acutely, which ones work preventively,” he said.

The authors reported personal and institutional relationships in the form of advisory board positions, consultancies, grants, research principal investigator roles, royalties, speakers bureau positions, and stockholders for a variety of pharmaceutical companies, agencies, and other organizations. Several authors disclosed ties with Theranica, the manufacturer of the REN device used in the study. Dr. Rapoport is editor-in-chief of Neurology Reviews and a consultant for Theranica, but was not involved in studies associated with the REN device.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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