Classification of pediatric headache cases referred to a neurology department

Pediatr Int. 2022 Jan;64(1):e15181. doi: 10.1111/ped.15181.


Background: Headaches are very common in children. The patients often have mild symptoms, but on occasion may have severe, secondary headaches. The present study aimed to clarify the details of children with headaches seen at the outpatient clinic of a pediatric neurological department.

Methods: The present, retrospective observational study was conducted at a tertiary pediatric hospital in Japan and enrolled children referred to the neurology department outpatient clinic for headache between April 2018 and March 2021.

Results: In total, 113 cases of headache were examined; of these, 99 (87.6%) were primary headaches, one case (0.9%) was a secondary headache, and 13 (11.5%) were unclassified or unspecified. There were 46 cases (40.7%) of tension-type headache (TTH), both confirmed and suspected, 30 cases (26.5%) of migraine, and 23 cases (20.4%) of a combination of the TTH and migraine. One case of secondary headache was attributed to an infection. Arachnoid cysts were found in seven patients (7.8%). Acute drug treatments were administered to 93 patients (82.3%), with acetaminophen being the most common drug, followed by ibuprofen. Prophylactic drug treatments were administered to 39 patients (34.5%), with goreisan (a Chinese herbal medicine containing Alisma orientale, Poria cocos, Polyporus umbellatus, Atractylodes lancea, and Cinnamomum cassia) being the most common (41%).

Conclusions: Few cases of secondary headache and none of emergency headache were diagnosed. The prevalence of arachnoid cysts was higher than in the general pediatric population, suggesting that arachnoid cysts might be associated with headache.

Keywords: arachnoid cysts; children; headache; migraine; tension-type headache.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Arachnoid Cysts* / complications
  • Arachnoid Cysts* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Neurology*
  • Tension-Type Headache* / complications
  • Tension-Type Headache* / diagnosis
  • Tension-Type Headache* / epidemiology