Inpatient Treatment

UCSF Inpatient Headache Unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center

When patients with frequent migraine, cluster, post-traumatic and other headache disorders fail to respond to multiple medications and other interventions in the clinic, they often feel that they are at a dead-end. Our nationally renowned hospital-based program can help to reverse these demoralizing and disabling conditions. The therapeutic interventions we use involve intravenous infusions of medication aimed at breaking the cycle of pain, and we have been able to help many hundreds of patients in this way.

• Severe unremitting or recurring pain
• Failure with multiple outpatient approaches
• Previous success with IV DHE or other inpatient strategy
• Medication overuse leading to a never-ending cycle of headaches

Intravenous medication choices
• Dihydroergotamine (DHE)
• Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
• Divalproex (Depacon) are the key intervention options.

After an initial visit in the clinic at the UCSF Headache Center at 2330 Post Street, San Francisco, we may offer this option. We may also move toward inpatient treatment options in patients we have been working with on an outpatient basis for some time. Your neurologist here will help you make the decision, and will lay out the program clearly and completely. Patients are admitted on Mondays and discharged on Thursday or Friday, depending on which protocol we select together. Some preadmission testing will need to be arranged. There will be a preadmission visit (often possible via video link) and a post-discharge visit.
One of the advantages of inpatient treatment is that it gives your entire team a chance to get to know and understand your headache condition and how it affects you. The HAU is a very comfortable and home-like environment. Our staff will help arrange authorization from your medical insurance provider. We will help to make sure family and friends are accommodated at a local hotel, and there is also the options for a loved one to board with you in your hospital room