Most common questions.
Is there an age limit for the procedure?
Usually the youngest patients we see are between 17 and 18 years of age because some surgeons want to wait until the patient has reached physical maturation. However, chronic migraines are known to occur at much earlier ages. If your child is suffering, he or she should be evaluated by a physician. Check with a neurologist first, then give us a call.
How is “chronic migraine” defined?
Chronic migraine is defined as: at least 15 headache days each month for at least 6 months
Do all patients need to see a neurologist before having an Omega Procedure?
Yes. An official diagnosis of migraine by a neurologist is essential.
Do I need a referral from a neurologist?
No. Some neurologists do refer patients to us, some do not. We will be happy to speak with you whether you have a referral or not. Click here for a longer discussion on why some neurologists do and some do not refer patients to us.
Do most insurance companies cover the Omega Procedure?
We work with most private insurance carriers, and our insurance team will handle the approval process from start to finish. However, we are not contracted with Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, or Humana at this time.
How long does it normally take to receive approval/denial from the insurance company?
Insurance companies legally have 30 days to provide an approval decision. We have found that the process usually takes about two weeks. Rest assured that our insurance team with follow up with your provider every two or three days to check on the status.
I live out of town and have to travel for the procedure. Will that be an issue?
No. In fact, 75% of our patients travel for this procedure. If you are out of state, one of our partner physicians can provide you with a free consultation over the phone. We will also help you schedule a date for your trial and permanent procedures so that the procedures fit your schedule.
What can I expect for the trial?
The trial is an outpatient procedure. Your physician will place the ends of the leads just below the skin on your forehead and in the back of your head. The leads will be between the skin and the skull. No bones will be cut at any time and the leads do not attach to your brain! The placement of these leads will depend on where your pain is specifically located and depending on where you and your physician decide is best for your individual case.
You will wear the equipment externally for the trial period. You will be assigned a St. Jude representative who will be in charge of the equipment and who will work with you throughout the trial to adjust the programming and setting to ensure that you receive the maximum relief possible.
How long does the trial period last?
The trial implant outpatient procedure takes 30-45 minutes, and the equipment is worn externally for an average of 3-6 days depending on your physician’s recommendations.
How do I know if the trial was a success?
This is essentially up to you. Generally, we want to see a 50% reduction in the frequency and severity of your migraine attacks. In the vast majority of cases, people who experienced the trial procedure go on to have the permanent implant.
Should I try to trigger a migraine during the trial?
Absolutely. Smell cheese, go out to eat, exercise…anything that you know triggers a migraine, try it during the trial! The point of the trial is to make sure this solution will give you dependable and lasting relief so you can get back to living the life you want.
How much time is there between the trial and permanent procedures?
You will have to wait 2-3 weeks between the trial and permanent procedures. This is because we must submit the results from the trial back to your insurance provider to show that you have experienced greater than 50% relief.
How long does implant procedure take?
The permanent implant procedure takes 2.5-3 hours. Some patients will be required to stay overnight to ensure lead placement was optimal.
How many leads are involved in the Omega Procedure?
We use four leads in order to cover all of the areas where you experience pain. You will be able to control which leads are on depending on where you are experiencing pain so that they are not all on all of the time.
So the system is not always on?
No, you control the impulses with an external remote control that is about the size of a cell phone. You will be able to control whether the impulses are on or off, and you will also be able to use different programmable settings based on your specific needs.
Will I be given anesthetic during the procedure?
Yes, you will be given general anesthesia during the procedure.
How much does it cost?
Your Patient Care Manager can gather some insurance information and run a free quote before you get started. Typically, the procedure will cost a portion of your deductible and out of pocket maximum, so your total cost will depend on those issues. Please note: we practice completely transparent and up-front billing. You will know the exact cost prior to the procedure and you will never receive any unexpected bills.
Living with Omega Procedure
Does the implant stay in forever?
You can keep the implant in for as long as you want, and most patients keep it in their whole life. The leads will stay in forever, but the battery pack will have to be changed approximately every 10 years.
How is the battery pack changed?
When the time comes, the battery pack can be replaced in a simple outpatient procedure. The leads will stay in during this procedure.
Do I need to continue taking medications after the procedure?
You will need to discuss this with your prescribing physician; however, most of our patients are able to greatly reduce the amount of medications they are taking after the procedure. This is a key benefit of the Omega Procedure.
Can I swim/play sports with the permanent implant?
Our physicians encourage most of their patients to lead an active lifestyle with the system in place. This includes swimming and most sports. Extreme athletes or thrill-seeker are encouraged to talk to their doctors about their individual pursuits.
What do I do if there is an issue with the programming device?
If there is ever an issue with the programming of the device, you can call your local St. Jude’s representative. You will be assigned your own representative near where you live after the permanent procedure.