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Closing a Heart Hole May Help Migraines

Study Shows Migraine Relief After Fixing a Heart Abnormality Called PFO

Why Findings May Vary

In an accompanying editorial, Wilmshurst suggests that the placebo effect may explain why the findings in the latest trial are so different from those in MIST trial.

The 147 MIST participants had no idea which treatment they were getting, but the 82 patients in the latest study chose the treatment they received.

"It is possible that in patients with migraine the placebo effect from an operative intervention might be much greater than the magnitude of placebo effects with drug treatments," he writes.

But Wilmshurst tells WebMD that this doesn't explain why early studies showed PFO closure to be an effective treatment for migraines. That's because patients in these early trials had the procedure for other reasons and had no expectations that their headaches would improve.

Several devices used for PFO closure are being marketed in the U.S., and Wilmshurst says PFO closure is commonly performed in patients with migraines even though it is considered experimental and the devices have not been approved for the treatment of migraines by the FDA.

"Some people would ask if we should really be using this treatment, since we can't say for sure that it works." he says. "I don't really know the answer to that question."

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