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Headache. 2000 Sep;40(8):686-8.

Case reports: sudden worsening of cluster headache: A signal of aneurysmal thrombosis and enlargement.

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  • 1Head and Neck Pain Program, Willis-Knighton Medical Center, Shreveport, LA, USA.


We report a 55-year-old man presenting with symptoms of cluster headache, including throbbing pain behind the left eye, tearing, and rhinorrhea. Magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography revealed no abnormalities. Two days of intravenous dihydroergotamine resolved his pain. His headaches were somewhat relieved with a treatment regimen of 100 mg of imipramine each night, 40 mg of propranolol twice a day, 250 mg of divalproex three times a day, and dihydroergotamine nasal spray for breakthrough headaches. Two months later, the severity of his pain increased dramatically. Repeat imaging revealed a large thrombosed left posterior communicating artery aneurysm. Following obliterative surgery, his headaches are infrequent and mild and resemble tension headaches. Dramatic changes in headache characteristics can be an indicator of aneurysmal enlargement and thrombosis. This case illustrates the importance of repeat imaging when a patient's headache significantly worsens.

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