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Acad Emerg Med. 2019 Oct 16. doi: 10.1111/acem.13870. [Epub ahead of print]

Propofol for Treatment of Acute Migraine in the Emergency Department: A Systematic Review.

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From, Parkview Regional Medical Center, Fort Wayne, IN.
and, Manchester University, Fort Wayne, IN.



Propofol has not been extensively studied as an acute migraine therapy; however, based on the limited evidence from outpatient and inpatient settings, propofol has been proposed as an option for patients who present to the emergency department (ED). The purpose of this review was to evaluate the existing literature regarding the safety and efficacy of propofol for acute migraine treatment in the ED.


A systematic review of clinical studies of propofol treatment for acute migraine in the ED was performed using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Trials were identified through PubMed, Google Scholar, clinical trial registries, research registries, and key journals through May 2019. A modified Jadad scoring system was used to assess the methodologic quality of the included randomized controlled trials, and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was used for the retrospective cohort study.


Nine studies, including five case reports or series, one retrospective cohort study, and three randomized controlled trials, consisting of 290 patients, were reviewed. All studies in adults reported propofol to be an effective therapy for migraine, but the strength of these results was limited by dosing variations, small sample sizes, and limited generalizability. Pediatric studies produced mixed results.


Propofol may be an effective rescue therapy for patients presenting to the ED for acute migraine, but its place in therapy based on the limited available evidence is unknown. The safety of propofol for migraine management in the ED has not been adequately examined.


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