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J Headache Pain. 2010 Jun;11(3):181-6. doi: 10.1007/s10194-010-0203-6. Epub 2010 Mar 12.

Diagnostic criteria for CADASIL in the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-II): are they appropriate?

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of L'Aquila, piazzale Salvatore Tommasi 1, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy.


We reviewed the characteristics of headache in patients with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), to verify the appropriateness of the International Classification of Headache Disorders, second edition (ICHD-II) criteria. Available data were found through Medline/PubMed using the keyword "cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL)". The search was restricted to studies published in English in the years between 1993 and 2008. We excluded studies that did not report original data on CADASIL and information regarding the presence of headache. We found 34 studies reporting data on 749 patients overall; 387 (51.7%) patients had headache. According to the authors' definition, 356 (92%) patients were reported as having migraine and 31 (8%) as having headache. Of the 356 patients who were defined as migraineurs, 125 (35.1%) had migraine with aura, 7 (2%) migraine without aura, 156 (43.8%) unspecified migraine and 68 (19.1%) had more than one type of migraine. Among the 31 patients reported as suffering from headache, the headache was not further detailed in 18 (58.1%) patients; it was defined as chronic in 6 (19.3%), as resembling migraine with aura in 4 (12.9%), as resembling migraine without aura in 2 (6.5%) and as tension type in 1 (3.2%) patient. In patients with CADASIL, the headache was usually referred to as migraine and mostly as migraine with aura. However, this referral is formally incorrect since the diagnostic criteria for any type of migraine in the ICHD-II require that the disturbance is not attributed to another disorder. For this reason, we suggest updating the ICHD-II in relation to CADASIL. Our suggestion is to insert a new category referred to as Headache attributed to genetic disorder including Headache attributed to CADASIL.

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