Managing and Preventing Migraine in the Emergency Department: A Review

Ann Emerg Med. 2023 Dec;82(6):732-751. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.05.024. Epub 2023 Jul 11.


Migraine is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and acute migraine attacks are a common reason for patients to seek care in the emergency department (ED). There have been recent advancements in the care of patients with migraine, specifically emerging evidence for nerve blocks and new pharmacological classes of medications like gepants and ditans. This article serves as a comprehensive review of migraine in the ED, including diagnosis and management of acute complications of migraine (eg, status migrainosus, migrainous infarct, persistent aura without infarction, and aura-triggered seizure) and use of evidence-based migraine-specific treatments in the ED. It highlights the role of migraine preventive medications and provides a framework for emergency physicians to prescribe them to eligible patients. Finally, it evaluates the evidence for nerve blocks in the treatment of migraine and introduces the possible role of gepants and ditans in the care of patients with migraine in the ED.

Keywords: Migraine; emergency; prophylaxis; status migrainosus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Seizures