George Johnston, 32, a UK-national lately underwent a  brain surgery in Mumbai to get a pacemaker fitted with connections that travel from the right side of his chest to the back of his neck.

He being an accountant in a bank has to spend long hours in office. From past year he started getting chronic headaches, which were later diagnosed as occipital neuralgia, often confused with migraine. He first tolerated the pain, but now all he need to do is to command a remote  fitted on to his chest to get rid of all his pain.

"When I feel the pain coming, I hold the sensor pad over my chest and adjust the current, which is calibrated in milliamperes. It passes on from the pacemaker to the back of my neck and controls the headache," said Johnston.

"I used to get continuous headaches when I was younger. They disappeared, but returned a year ago. I decided to get operated in Mumbai as it was expensive and time-consuming to do it in the UK. Moreover, the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK don't cover the procedure under medical insurance," he added.

In UK, the surgery would have cost him over Rs 22 lakh but the cost at Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai is just Rs 11 lakh.  Also, in the surgery no muscles or nerves are cut. Johnston was awake and conscious during the surgery, so that he could give real-time feedback about his pain sensation.

"The brain is made up of large and small fibers. The small fibers are responsible for the sensation of pain. The passing current stimulates the large fibers, which block the small fibers from carrying the sensation," said neurosurgeon Dr Paresh Doshi.

In India, occipital neuralgia is widespread, but, doctors say, many fear of going under the knife and thus continue to bear headaches.  

How it works:

Two electric leads are implanted under the skin in the chest and are connected with wires passing from under the neck to the back of the head. The remote control can conduct a current from 1 milliampere to 10 milliampere to stimulate long fibers of the brain to block the small fibers, which transport the sensation of pain.