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Epilepsia. 2012 Apr;53(4):e67-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03387.x. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Ictal epileptic headache as "subtle" symptom in generalized idiopathic epilepsy.

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Department of Neuroscience, Neurology Unit, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.


Epilepsy and migraine are common neurologic chronic disorders with episodic manifestations characterized by recurrent attacks and a return to baseline conditions between attacks. Epilepsy and migraine are frequently observed in comorbidity, with the occurrence of one disorder increasing the probability of the other: Migraine occurs in about one-fourth of patients with epilepsy, whereas epilepsy is present in 8-15% of patients with migraine. The link between headache and seizures is controversial and multifactorial. In epilepsy, headache can be seen as a preictal, ictal, or postictal phenomenon. In this report, we describe a case of a 37-year-old patient, affected by both drug-resistant generalized idiopathic epilepsy and headache, who displayed the sudden onset of a headache attack referred during a 24-h electroencephalography (EEG). The EEG tracing during this event revealed the activation of subcontinuous epileptic activity consisting of generalized spike-wave discharges (GSWDs) and generalized polyspike and wave discharges (GPSWDs) that persisted for 60 min, that is, until the disappearance of the headache. The case we describe appears to be original in that it represents one of the few EEG-documented ictal epileptic headaches in generalized idiopathic epilepsy.

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