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Transcript: Kay’s Life is Restored with Reed Procedure Migraine Treatment

Speaker 1:The following program is sponsored by Reed Migraine Center and features medical questions from viewers. Nothing within the program establishes doctor/patient confidentiality.

Mike Burger: Hello and welcome to Ask The Doctor. I am your host, Mike Burger. Joining us today is Dr. Kenneth Reed from Reed Migraine Centers to discuss the revolutionary procedure used to alleviate migraine. Dr. Reed is the founder of the revolutionary Reed procedure, used specifically for treatment of chronic severe headaches. We are also will be taking your calls and e-mail questions. The number is 972-707-2800 or log on to the website at

Dr. Reed, thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about the neurostimulation and the Reed migraine. This is really fascinating. I know people who have had migraines. Most of our viewers know those people and this sounds pretty impressive.

Dr. Reed: I think it is. For patients that respond to this, it can be dramatic. It can change their life. Neurostimulation has actually been used for quite a while for pain in the neck and back, called the spinal cord stimulator. These have been implanted around the world, numerous specialists in DFW area have been doing it since 1960s, hundreds of thousands of patients, for chronic neck and back pain. What we did is used the same technology but applied it for headaches initially in the back of the head in 1990s, where we had a series of patients, we reported in the medical literature, excellent results. It is called occipital nerve stimulation. That procedure is actually done around the world now for pain in the back of the head. We found it didn’t work as well for migraine headaches, more commonly pain in the front and side of the head, so about six years ago, we extended this technique, added in a frontal component and now we’ve seen an excellent response rate with indeed dramatic responses with most of our patients for this.

Mike Burger: That sounds fabulous. Can you tell us little bit about the micro stimulator and actually how it works. Is that like a little battery somewhere?

Dr. Reed: Exactly so. I think we have a graphic, if we can put it up. A neurostimulator, the device, it’s made by three large companies in the United States, all excellent equipment. It consists of a small battery very similar to pacemaker battery. In fact, the companies make these in three long wires, plastic-covered wires. The battery is actually typically implanted in the upper outer hip and there are reasons for that. It is very simple to pass these little wires up under the skin, two of them end them in the back of the head, right under the skin what we call the occipital nerves, and two pass over the front just right in the eyebrows. You cannot see it. There are no scars. You can’t even tell it is there. It is actually a very safe procedure. When it is turned on, the patient will feel just a mild tingling sensation, tends to feel very good, by certain mechanisms that will opt and dramatically ease the patient’s pain.

Mike Burger: I have to ask you, and I am thinking about football players or anybody that plays sports. Any chance that these wires would break or …?

Dr. Reed: Another good question. We implant these in a lot of athletes. We have 30 teenagers so far, cheerleaders, gymnasts, water skiers, snow skiers, baseball player, haven’t had a football player yet, but we could absolutely put them in football players. There are no restrictions. It is very safe. It is medical equipment. It could move or something, but even then, it is very safe, and we could replace it back there, but it has been very successful in our very active young patients.

Mike Burger: How many types of neurostimulators are being used?

Dr. Reed: If you look on the Internet, there is actually a lot of types and can be easily confused. For our purposes, we describe four different main types of neurostimulators. The most common one is what I mentioned earlier. It has been used around the world for neck and back pain and that’s called the spinal cord stimulator. By the way, the equipment is the same for them all, a little battery and these wires. The battery in the hip for spinal cord stimulation, it passes the neck and back, tingles will ease neck and back pain.

Mike Burger: It sounds to me like what you are saying is we are actually stimulating nerves.

Dr. Reed: Yes, exactly what we are stimulating, under the skin. For the front of the head, it is called supraorbital stimulator, the back, occipital. That’s what we term a Reed procedure. What it is doing is stimulating these very superficial nerves, not the brain, just right into the skin, the nerves. The patient feels a very mild tingling sensation, but by certain mechanisms it looks like it is actually not covering up the pain, but actually working deep in the brain to actually stop the headaches from occurring in the first place.

Mike Burger: Of course, once these are implanted, you can’t see them. No one else can see them.

Dr. Reed: It is very interesting, completely under the skin and there are no scars visible. There are no lumps. Patients go out in swim suits. Nobody can tell that have them in. There are no restrictions. The patient can’t feel it. Patients tend to get along with these quite well.

Mike Burger: You mentioned the Reed procedure and you actually started doing this for migraine headaches some time ago, but the Reed procedure is a little addition to what a lot of people were doing.

Dr. Reed: Exactly so. It’s what we term … the technical name for it is combined occipital nerve supraorbital nerve stimulator. We were the first to apply them in the back of the head, occipital nerve stimulator, in the 1990s. That’s used around the world now, but about six years ago, we added in the two leads in the front, that combined system we called Reed procedure for migraine headaches and that’s the one we are using in most cases.

Mike Burger: The phone lines are open, and we want to get started. Let’s go right to Robin from Addison. Robin, what’s your question?

Robin: The neurostimulator, it sounds so futuristic, Star Trek. Will there be a time when migraines will just be history?

Dr. Reed: It is a great question. I think the way to look at this is this tends to be an extremely good, often dramatic life-changing treatment for patients that respond, but I emphasize, it is not a cure. The headaches are not gone. This is stopping them. I think it is probably the next best thing. Like a lot of things in medicine, we can treat it. Treat it in this case, I think, very effectively, but like high blood pressure, heart disease, it is not a cure. It is an excellent treatment for it.

Mike Burger: We really don’t know what causes migraines, do we?

Dr. Reed: We don’t know the full mechanisms. There have been a lot of things, there is a lot of excellent research being done. International research, there are several medical journals that this is published in several times of year, our research has been published in those, by the way, it is easily accessible on the Internet. The research is down to fine neurochemical mechanisms, neurophysiology of the brain. We have excellent imaging studies. We have a lot of information on how migraines work [inaudible 00:07:20], but still not the final answer.

Mike Burger: One of these days, we might come up with that answer.

Dr. Reed: Absolutely, that’s the goal. That’s the holy grail.

Mike Burger: We are going to take a short break, we will be right back. This is an interesting show. Stay with us.

Mike Burger: Welcome back to Ask The Doctor. I am your host, Mike Burger. Here to talk about a new procedure to alleviate migraines is Dr. Kenneth Reed from Reed Migraine Centers. Remember we are also taking your calls and e-mail questions. The number is 972-707-2800, or you can log on to our website at Dr. Reed, who would qualify for this type of neurostimulation procedure, everyone that has a migraine or …?

Dr. Reed: Absolutely not. Who is a candidate for this procedure? It is probably the first question that people ask, “Am I a candidate?” It is actually pretty straight-forward. This tends to work on most types of severe headaches, migraine, tension headaches. It is not for everybody. The candidate for this patient, if somebody has frequent severe headaches, maybe two or more times a week, and the key is they have tried more conservative treatment. This is not a first step in treatment. It is a surgical procedure, tends to be towards the end. People with headaches or a candidate that’s gone to a headache specialist and neurologist have been working with it, maybe several neurologists, medications or adjunctive treatment such as Botox, very often those will work and if they are working, you certainly don’t need this, but oftentimes they don’t work or if they don’t work and there is really nothing left to do, that patient becomes a candidate, so frequent, severe headaches that have tried more conservative treatment, they are still having them, they’re a candidate.

Mike Burger: Are there different types of migraine headaches?

Dr. Reed: There are a lot of different types of migraine headaches. Migraine headaches, some people just classify as a severe headache, but neurologically, they are very specific diagnoses. Patients that have them tend to know, they are going to neurologists, they can tell us the type. This treatment has been studied in several different types, classic migraines, common migraines, tension headaches, chronic daily headaches, cluster headaches and in all of the studies, it shows it to be very and similarly effective.

Mike Burger: How effective would you say the Reed procedure is?

Dr. Reed: How effective is it? Not everybody responds, but if they respond, it tends to be dramatically effective. People describe it as getting their life back. “I have my wife back. The children can function again. They are going back to school. They are enjoying life.” A percentage, they’ll describe over 80 to 90% improvement in the headaches, sometimes nearly complete resolution of the headaches.

Mike Burger: I just want to quickly mention. I went to YouTube and I saw the video of the young lady. I think she is a sophomore in college now, had a migraine for nine months and this procedure literally gave her life back.

Dr. Reed: Exactly so. Kim, who could not function, she had to withdraw from college, she was living with her parents. Here in Dallas, her dad is a well-known orthopedic surgeon. She could literally not leave the house. About just over four years ago, they contacted us. We did the first step, which is test procedure to confirm that it works, and then we implanted the full system. This is four years later, she is virtually headache-free. She takes no medications, lives a full active lifestyle and is doing just great.

Mike Burger: She likes you a lot.

Dr. Reed: It has been very gratifying, most of the patients are very, very pleased.
Mike Burger: We have got to take a short break and then we are going to come back with some more calls and some e-mail questions. Stay right here with us.

Mike Burger: Welcome back to Ask The Doctor. I am your host, Mike Burger. We have been talking about the Reed procedure for treating the worst migraines, and remember, we are also taking your calls and e-mail questions. The number is 972-707-2800, or you can log on to Joining us now is Kay Shurtleff, who has been suffering from headaches since she was 15 years old. Kay, how often were you having migraines.

Kay Shurtleff: When I was young, I had them once a week, twice a week, something like that. Then I got older, different things happened and it gradually got to the point where I was having them 24/7 for the last six years.

Mike Burger: 24/7 for six years?

Kay Shurtleff: Yes.

Mike Burger: How did you do that?

Kay Shurtleff: You would do the same thing. You have made the decision either, “I am just going to hide from the world,” or, “I am just going to put one foot in front of the other.”

Mike Burger: What type of procedures did you go through, because obviously with pain like that, you’re looking for some help?

Kay Shurtleff: You are. I saw several neurologists. I have a wonderful neurologist and we did 67, something like that, different drug protocols.

Mike Burger: Sixty-seven?

Kay Shurtleff: Then we tried lots of other things, trigger point injections here, injections here and here, surgical nerve block, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy.

Mike Burger: You just have to feel let down because you go home, and you and your husband says, “How does it work?” “Not so well.”

Kay Shurtleff: You do get to the point where you just think, “This is just it. Nothing is going to work.”

Mike Burger: How did you hear about Dr. Reed’s procedure?

Kay Shurtleff: The neurologist that I see, we talked about different options and his nurse practitioner actually mentioned, this is something that’s out there on the horizon and then I decided to get another opinion from yet another neurologist. I saw her, and she looked at all my records and she said, “I can try to treat you, but my first suggestion would be that you would to Reed Migraine Center.”

Mike Burger: Earlier, Dr. Reed told us that when the patients come in, they actually do a test procedure. How did that work for you, and were you little nervous about that?

Kay Shurtleff: Not really nervous, because it is a win-win kind of a thing. Nervous a little bit that it wasn’t going to work, and it was going to be one more thing that we tried. The procedure itself wasn’t any big deal at all. In fact, I went to work the next day with it.

Mike Burger: With that procedure, with the test procedure, did that indeed help your migraine?

Kay Shurtleff: It did. At 4 o’clock in the morning, I woke up the day after the procedure. I had that procedure the day before and at 4 o’clock in the morning I woke up, because I felt like something is wrong and realized that I had no headache. I woke up my husband and said, “You ought to know this. My head doesn’t hurt anymore. Wake up.”

Mike Burger: That’s got to be a … just an incredible feeling that once in six years …

Kay Shurtleff: Yeah, I went from just saying every day to my husband, “If I could have five minutes without a headache, I could do all my thinking then and then I could just function.”

Mike Burger: Now you are ready for the procedure. We have tested it, seems to be working, go see Dr. Reed and get it done. How did that work out?

Kay Shurtleff: It was wonderful. We had a little party in the hospital that night. It has been 13 weeks and three days and we celebrate it every day.

Mike Burger: You had just what about three months ago, is that it, and every day now, migraine-free.

Kay Shurtleff: Every single minute of my life is different.

Mike Burger: That’s incredible. What is it like living with that neurostimulator, because I know you have a little battery implanted in your hip?

Kay Shurtleff: It is really not a big deal. You do not feel it. You do not really think about it unless you feel a headache coming on or you can do a preemptive strike and change the setting if you think you are going to be in a situation that’s going to cause a headache, but other than that, it doesn’t really affect your everyday life.

Mike Burger: How do you change that stimulation?

Kay Shurtleff: You have a low remote.

Mike Burger: You do, so it is remote-controlled.

Kay Shurtleff: There are a bunch of different settings and you can change it if you want to feel it more intensely here and less here, then you can regulate that.

Mike Burger: I would ask the question, how do you feel now that you had the procedure, but I would say you are probably the happiest woman in the world.

Kay Shurtleff: I sure am. It is the difference between saying, “I wish I could have five minutes to have a clear thought,” and saying, “Let’s go walk the dog. Let’s go to the movie. Let’s plan a trip to Ireland.” All those things are things we couldn’t do before.

Mike Burger: I know since you lived with something that long, it is real easy to wake up one day and you don’t have a headache, but you are saying, “I wonder if this is coming back. I wonder if it is still just too good to believe,” but it really works.

Kay Shurtleff: It is surreal, still, at this point, but I had one day that I have had a headache that I could not quite get under control. My worst days now are so much better than my best days were then.
Mike Burger: That’s an incredible story. I am so happy for you. I am sure every one is. It is something to look into if you suffer from migraines. Thank you so much again, Kim, and we are going to return and we will look at the process if you are a candidate, when we come back with more Ask The Doctor. Stay with us.