SUNCT and SUNA: medical and surgical treatments

Neurol Sci. 2013 May:34 Suppl 1:S75-81. doi: 10.1007/s10072-013-1366-0.


Short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT) and short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with cranial autonomic symptoms (SUNA) are rare and often disabling primary headache disorders. Their management can be challenging. The abortive therapies are not generally useful as the attacks are relatively short lasting. A myriad of pharmacological preventive treatments have been tried in single case reports or small series in an open-label fashion. Lamotrigine, as an oral preventive treatment, and lidocaine, as an intravenous transitional treatment, seem to be the most effective therapies. For medically intractable chronic forms of SUNCT and SUNA, several surgical approaches have been tried. These include ablative procedures involving the trigeminal nerve or the Gasserian ganglion, microvascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve, and neurostimulation techniques. This review provides an overview of the current pharmacological and surgical options for SUNCT and SUNA syndromes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Headache / drug therapy
  • Headache / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lamotrigine
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • SUNCT Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • SUNCT Syndrome / surgery*
  • Triazines / administration & dosage
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias / drug therapy*
  • Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias / surgery*


  • Analgesics
  • Triazines
  • Lidocaine
  • Lamotrigine