[Familial and sporadic hemiplegic migraine]

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2008 Mar;164(3):216-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2007.10.003. Epub 2008 Mar 11.
[Article in French]


Hemiplegic migraine (HM) is a rare variety of migraine with aura characterized by the presence of a motor weakness during the aura. Hemiplegic migraine has two main forms according to the familial history: patients with at least one first- or second-degree relative who has aura including motor weakness have familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM); patients without such familial history have sporadic hemiplegic migraine (SHM). The prevalence of HM is one in 10,000 with FHM and SHM being equally frequent. Typical HM attacks include a motor weakness that is always associated with other aura symptoms, the most frequent being sensory, visual and speech disorders. In addition, basilar-type symptoms occur in up to 70% of the patients. Severe attacks may occur in FHM as well as in SHM with prolonged hemiplegia, confusion, coma, fever and seizures. The clinical spectrum also includes permanent cerebellar signs (nystagmus, ataxia, dysarthria) and less frequently various types of seizures and intellectual deficiency. FHM is the only variety of the autosomal dominant migraine and all three know genes encode ion-transporters. A genetic diagnosis is now possible by screening the three known genes involved in FHM (CACNA1A, ATP1A2 and SCNA1). Prognosis is usually good. Treatment is similar to approaches used in other varieties of migraine with aura, excepted for triptans that are contraindicated in MHF/MHS. Based on new pathophysiological insight, preventive treatments by various antiepileptic agents seem promising.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Migraine with Aura / diagnosis
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology
  • Migraine with Aura / etiology
  • Migraine with Aura / genetics
  • Migraine with Aura / physiopathology
  • Migraine with Aura / therapy*
  • Prognosis