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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2000 Jun;16(3):196-201; quiz 203.

Emergency department management of pediatric migraine.

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Department of Pediatrics, Winnipeg Children's Hospital, Manitoba, Canada.


Migraine is a common pediatric emergency department problem. Since its pathophysiology is unclear and possibly multifactorial, a single treatment strategy is unlikely to be successful for all patients. A specific treatment that has been successful for a particular patient should be strongly considered. Otherwise, it is best to start with simple therapies such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or an NSAID if not already tried at home. For patients requiring more specific therapy, reasonable choices would be dihydroergotamine or a dopamine antagonist such as prochlorperazine. There are several newer agents studied in adults with examples being sumatriptan and naratriptan. These probably have a role in the adolescent and should be considered in the younger age group when other therapies have failed. When the headache has been prolonged, dexamethasone may be useful in decreasing inflammation and relieving pain. As illustrated in many of the above studies, monotherapy is often inadequate in achieving complete relief of headache pain in all patients. Most of the drugs discussed here address only one of the three etiologies thought to be involved in migraine pathogenesis, namely; the dopaminergic system. the serotonin system or inflammation. Presumably, therapy directed toward more than one of these etiologies at the same time may be more effective (11).

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