Who is eligible for migraine surgery?
An estimated 1 in 10 people, or 36 million in the United States, suffer from migraine, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. The majority are not candidates for surgery. Dr. W.G. (Jay) Austen, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, estimates that no more than 5 percent of migraine sufferers are candidates for the nerve decompression technique he is pioneering in Boston. To be a candidate for this surgery, a patient must:
■ Be under the treatment of a neurologist.
■ Suffer from severe migraines more than once a week.
■ Have tried and not benefited from behavioral approaches, medications, and other therapies.
■ Be at least 18 years old.
Insurance companies vary on coverage. Sharon Torgerson, director of public relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, says that patients are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and coverage is provided when the surgery is deemed medically necessary.