Published on 1 December 2021

What is GammaCore?

electroCore™ have developed a handheld medical device called gammaCore™ which enables patients to self-administer non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation by delivering a proprietary signal through the skin to either the right or the left branches of the vagus nerve in the neck for the management of their cluster headache.

Why is GammaCore required?

Cluster headaches (CH) are excruciating attacks of pain in one side of the head, often felt around the eye. Although anyone can get CH, they are rare, however are more common in men and tend to start when a person is in their 30s or 40s. Around 66,000 people in the UK experience cluster headache.

High-flow oxygen cylinders may be sent to a patient’s home to provide acute pain relief during an attack, however this can be impractical and requires regular re-fills and maintenance. Current treatments and therapies can be limited by side effects, and the off-label use of medications designed for the treatment of unrelated conditions is common. It is estimated that for approximately 5% of people with CH, standard care is unsuccessful or is unsuitable, and many patients do not gain sufficient control of their condition, and hence remain ‘treatment refractory’. These patients may end up being referred for an expensive surgical procedure as a last resort.

Cluster headaches are estimated to cost the NHS in England in excess of £10,000 a year, on average per patient on average.

What solution does GammaCore provide?

Stimulation of the vagus nerve affects many important autonomic functions in the brain and in the body, including neurotransmitters and inflammation levels. There is a large body of clinical evidence which supports the use of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) in the treatment of primary headache conditions including the acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache.

gammaCore differs from other vagus nerve stimulators in being applied to the skin of the neck rather than implanted by a surgical procedure.

Note: gammaCore can only be prescribed by a specialist in primary or secondary care.

What impact does GammaCore have?

Real world evidence from headache experts shows that in clinical practice, gammaCore is effective in approximately 50% of patients with CH.

Patients who respond typically experience reductions in the frequency, duration and severity of CH attacks, and some may even find the condition is placed into remission.

Cost-savings are realised as CH symptoms are reduced and the need for expensive acute rescue medication usage becomes less. There may also be a reduction in the use of general healthcare services, such as outpatient appointments, telephone consultations, GP visits and A&E attendances, as a consequence of an improvement in prophylactic control as the patient is able to better manage their CH symptoms with gammaCore.

From April 2021 GammaCore is one of four technologies included under the new NHS MedTech Funding Mandate.

How do you find out more?

Visit GammaCore to find out more

Alternatively, get in touch with a member of the project team below


Project team

Fran Ives

Innovation Programme Manager

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