Migraine Medical Terms Glossary

Sphenopalatine Ganglion

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The sphenopalatine ganglion is a collection of nerves located deep within the sinus cavity, behind the bridge of the nose.

  • frequently abbreviated with the initials SPG
  • involved in pain perception during a migraine attack
  • connects to brainstem and meninges (covering of brain) by the trigeminal nerve
  • controls tear ducts, sinuses, and lining of the nose
  • responsible for symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, tearing eyes that sometimes occur during a migraine attack

Anesthetic medication can be applied to the SPG to alleviate pain. The benefits may last for several weeks. This process is referred to as an SPG block. It involves application of local anesthetic using long cotton swabs or thin catheters. Side effects include temporary numbness of throat, low blood pressure, and nausea. In rare cases, nasal bleeding, temporary increased pain, or infection have been reported.

Alternatively, SPG stimulation is in clinical trials. The ATI™ SPG Neurostimulator involves surgically implanting a device through the mouth. A hand-held device turns on the stimulator to treat acute symptoms. As with any surgery, there are risks of infection, numbness, pain, and sensitivity in the face, gums, and teeth.


Sources:

  1. Charleston L, Halker R (2015) Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks in Headache Disorders, American Migraine Foundation, 4 Sep. 2016, retrieved online at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/sphenopalatine-ganglion-blocks-in-headache-disorders/.
  2. Jion Y, Robbins M (2014). The Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) and Headache, American Migraine Foundation, 9 Sep. 2014, retrieved online at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/the-sphenopalatine-ganglion-spg-and-headache/.
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