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, 128 (Pt 8), 1921-30

The Clinical Characteristics of Headache in Patients With Pituitary Tumours


The Clinical Characteristics of Headache in Patients With Pituitary Tumours

M J Levy et al. Brain.


The clinical characteristics of 84 patients with pituitary tumour who had troublesome headache were investigated. The patients presented with chronic (46%) and episodic (30%) migraine, short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT; 5%), cluster headache (4%), hemicrania continua (1%) and primary stabbing headache (27%). It was not possible to classify the headache according to International Headache Society diagnostic criteria in six cases (7%). Cavernous sinus invasion was present in the minority of presentations (21%), but was present in two of three patients with cluster headache. SUNCT-like headache was only seen in patients with acromegaly and prolactinoma. Hypophysectomy improved headache in 49% and exacerbated headache in 15% of cases. Somatostatin analogues improved acromegaly-associated headache in 64% of cases, although rebound headache was described in three patients. Dopamine agonists improved headache in 25% and exacerbated headache in 21% of cases. In certain cases, severe exacerbations in headache were observed with dopamine agonists. Headache appears to be a significant problem in pituitary disease and is associated with a range of headache phenotypes. The presenting phenotype is likely to be governed by a combination of factors, including tumour activity, relationship to the cavernous sinus and patient predisposition to headache. A proposed modification of the current classification of pituitary-associated headache is given.

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