Improvement of refractory migraine headache by propofol: case series

Int J Emerg Med. 2012 May 15;5(1):19. doi: 10.1186/1865-1380-5-19.


Background: Several studies have been conducted on managing migraine headaches and developing effective medications for decreasing migraine-associated pain.

Case presentation: Intravenous propofol was prescribed (10 mg every 5 min) for eight patients with intractable migraine headaches visiting the Emergency Department. The average pain score experienced by patients was recorded using the Visual Analogue Scale at the beginning of the treatment procedure and following the injection for 30 min (5-min intervals). The patients' reported pain scores decreased significantly (P = 0.01) from 8.87 ± 0.83 (CI: 8.17, 9.57) to 1.12 ± 0.83 (CI: 0.43, 1.82) before and 30 min following the injection.

Discussion: It seems that in the treatment of intractable migraine headaches, GABAergic receptors, compared to the normal conditions, have a lower activity status.

Conclusion: Because of the high tendency of propofol to GABAergic receptors, it probably changes this physiological condition by activating the receptors, which results in a significant pain reduction.