Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias: diagnostic and therapeutic developments

Curr Opin Neurol. 2008 Jun;21(3):323-30. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e3282fa6d76.


Purpose of review: The review was designed to summarize recent research relevant to the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, which include cluster headache, paroxysmal hemicrania, short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing/cranial autonomic features (SUNCT/SUNA). Hemicrania continua is included for completeness.

Recent findings: Cluster headache has the longest attack duration and relatively low attack frequency. Paroxysmal hemicrania has intermediate duration and intermediate attack frequency. Short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing have the shortest attack duration and the highest attack frequency. Hemicrania continua has a continuous pain with exacerbations that can include cranial autonomic symptoms as part of the phenotype. The importance of diagnosing these syndromes resides in their excellent but highly selective response to treatment.

Summary: Considerable advances have been made in the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias and these are important for neurologists to consider.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Pituitary Diseases / diagnosis
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias / classification
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias / diagnosis*
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias / therapy*
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use


  • Analgesics
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Tryptamines