Pulsating, Pounding Headaches

New Outpatient Infusion Treatment Offers Relief

Vincent Martin, MD

Photo by Wes Battoclette


Anyone suffering from disabling chronic migraines is searching for one thing: relief. West Chester Hospital now offers that relief in the form of the region’s only outpatient dihydroergotamine (DHE) infusion center. 

“For many years DHE has been used to break migraine attacks in hospitalized patients, but we have adapted the inpatient protocol and created a “state of the art”  outpatient infusion center to treat these attacks,” says Vincent Martin, MD, UC Health headache specialist at West Chester Hospital, director of the Headache and Facial Pain Program at University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute and a professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine for the UC College of Medicine. 

Two types of patients are candidates for DHE infusion treatment: individuals with chronic migraines, which means attacks occur at least 15 days per month, and individuals who struggle with rebound headaches. Rebound headaches are caused by medication overuse in which long-term use of pain relievers trigger subsequent migraine attacks. 

The outpatient infusion treatment at West Chester Hospital allows patients to bypass a hospital stay and receive rapid care. “Patients arrive at 6:30 a.m., receive two injections of DHE and a few other medications, and then return home,” says Dr. Martin. 

If the headache persists, patients come back the next morning for another infusion. The treatments are available in one-, three- and five-day increments depending on the severity of the attack. 

In most cases, DHE infusion effectively breaks the patient’s prolonged headache cycle without the rebound triggers that are present in short-acting medications like Excedrin, Tylenol or Advil. DHE works by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain much like other migraine medications called triptans.   

Dr. Martin says the infusion acts as a sort of “reset” for the brain, allowing patients the opportunity for relief through the administration of a powerful intravenous medication (DHE), effective nausea medications and adequate hydration. 

The well-tolerated therapy provides a fresh start for patients without the cost or time commitment of a hospital stay.   

Dr. Martin plans to further alleviate patient suffering with additional therapies as the outpatient infusion program grows at West Chester Hospital.

 “In the future, we hope to offer a variety of different options to further help reduce or eliminate patients’ migraines, including nutrition counseling with a dietitian, and massage or acupuncture therapy,” says Dr. Martin. “Providing this treatment and other helpful resources in an outpatient setting is a huge step in providing relief to those who suffer with chronic headaches.”

West Chester Hospital is located at 7700 University Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45069. You can reach them at 513.298.3000 or visit their website at www.UCHealth.com/WestChesterHospital.