Migraine variants--occurrence in pediatric neurology practice

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2013 Sep;115(9):1775-83. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2013.04.012. Epub 2013 May 18.


Migraine is common in pediatric neurology practice, while migraine variants are rare and pose diagnostic problems.

Objective: The aim was to establish the occurrence of migraine variants in pediatric neurology practice and among migraine, and to discuss their presentation.

Patients and methods: The files of 2509 newly diagnosed patients, aged 0-18 years, treated as in- and out-patients in the Neuropediatric Ward at the Plovdiv Medical University Hospital between 2002 and 2006 were examined retrospectively. Migraine forms were diagnosed according to ICHD-II. Benign paroxysmal torticolis and alternating hemiplegia of childhood were also accepted as migraine variants according to proposed diagnostic criteria in the appendix of ICHD-II. Some specific forms like acute confusional migraine (ACM), Alice in wonderland syndrome (AWS), ophthalmoplegic migraine were also diagnosed although not included as migraine variants in the ICHD-II classification.

Results: 111 patients met diagnostic criteria for migraine. Patients with migraine variants comprised 24.3% of migrainous cases. Basilar type migraine was the most common (6.3% of all migrainous patients), followed by benign paroxysmal vertigo (5.4%), hemiplegic migraine (3.6%), ACM (2.7%), benign paroxysmal torticolis (2.7%), typical aura without headache (1.8%), abdominal migraine (1.8%), AWS (0.9%), ophthalmoplegic migraine (0.9%) and cyclical vomiting (0.9%). Alternating hemiplegia of childhood and retinal migraine was not found. Some patients either presented or were classified as different migraine variants.

Conclusion: Basilar type migraine was the most common migraine variant. ACM and AWS should be regarded as distinct entities in the ICHD as migraine with complex aura. Benign paroxysmal torticollis also deserves its place as a migraine variant. Cases of ophthalmoplegic migraine with spontaneous remission and no cranial nerve enhancement on MRI should be considered as migraine form. Analyzing migraine variants will contribute to better awareness and adequate diagnosis.

Keywords: Diagnostic criteria; International Classification of Headache Disorders – second edition; Migraine variants; Pediatric neurology practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coma / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / classification
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology
  • Ophthalmoplegic Migraine / epidemiology
  • Torticollis / epidemiology
  • Vertigo / epidemiology
  • Vomiting / epidemiology
  • Vomiting / etiology