Occipital ischaemic stroke after visual snow phenomenon - a case report

Cephalalgia. 2021 Jun;41(7):871-874. doi: 10.1177/0333102420985444. Epub 2021 Jan 12.


Background: Persistent migraine with aura and neuroimaging examinations revealing ischaemia in the contralateral cortex may be associated with migrainous infarction. Despite being a neurological symptom that is distinct from migraine with aura, the visual snow phenomenon may also be associated with cerebral ischaemia. Here we describe a patient who reported short-lasting daily symptoms of visual snow that affected his entire visual field before becoming continuous and left-sided following acute occipital brain ischaemia.

Case report: In February 2017, a 74-year-old retired male was referred to our headache outpatient clinic with a diagnosis of recent right occipital cerebral ischaemia and migraine with aura. The patient reported visual snow symptoms that had changed from being bilateral and temporary to left-sided and permanent one day upon awakening; after being admitted to hospital a few hours later, he discovered he had had a stroke. He said he had never had any symptoms of migraine with aura. The visual snow phenomenon disappeared completely after about 1 year.

Conclusions: In our patient, a temporary daily visual snow phenomenon reversed to a persistent one. This phenomenon occurred in the part of his visual field that had been affected by the ischaemic occipital stroke, as typically happens in migrainous infarction. We hypothesise that the occipital lesion disrupted the inhibitory circuits, leading to a quadrantopic persistent visual snow. Since the mechanism may be the same as that observed in migrainous infarction, though with a different pathophysiology, it is possible to speculate that the aura in this case is the result, as opposed to the cause, of stroke in most patients.

Keywords: Visual snow; case report; migraine with aura; migrainous infarction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia / complications*
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Infarction
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke*
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine with Aura / complications*
  • Migraine with Aura / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Vision Disorders / complications*