Prevalence and clinical features of hemicrania continua in clinic-based studies: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Cephalalgia. 2023 Jan;43(1):3331024221131343. doi: 10.1177/03331024221131343.

Abstract

Objective: To estimate the relative frequencies of hemicrania continua and its clinical features in adult patients who were evaluated for headache in a clinic-based setting.

Methods: PubMed and Embase were searched for observational, clinic-based studies published between 1 January 2004 and 1 February 2022, that reported on the relative frequencies of hemicrania continua and its clinical features. Two independent investigators (HMA and SA-K) screened titles, abstracts, and full text-articles. A random-effects meta-analysis was conducted to estimate pooled relative frequencies of hemicrania continua and its clinical features across clinic-based studies.

Results: Eleven clinic-based studies were deemed eligible for inclusion. Of these, eight studies reported on the relative frequency of hemicrania continua among adult patients (n = 9854) who were evaluated for headache in a tertiary care unit. The pooled relative frequency of hemicrania continua was found to be 1.8% (95% CI; 1.0-3.3). Considerable heterogeneity was noted across studies (I2 = 89.8%). The three most common symptoms associated with hemicrania continua were lacrimation (72.3%), conjunctival injection (69.8%), and restlessness/agitation (60.2%).

Conclusion: The findings of this meta-analysis suggest that there is limited epidemiologic data on the relative frequencies of hemicrania continua and its clinical features. Standardized data acquisition and reporting are needed to estimate prevalence rates more accurately and to better understand epidemiologic patterns. This, in turn, should increase awareness of the impact that hemicrania continua has in clinical practice.

Keywords: International Classification of Headache Disorders; Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia; epidemiology; headache; primary headache disorders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Headache* / diagnosis
  • Headache* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Vascular Headaches*