[Effectiveness and tolerance of amitriptyline oxide in chronic tension headache--a multicenter double-blind study versus amitriptyline versus placebo]

Nervenarzt. 1993 Feb;64(2):114-20.
[Article in German]


Tricyclic antidepressants, especially amitriptyline, are the medication of first choice in the treatment of chronic tension headache. Few previous studies meet modern standards of study design and statistical analysis. Tolerability and efficacy of 60-90 mg amitriptyline oxide (AO) as a single dose in the evening were compared with 50-75 mg amitriptyline (AM) and placebo (PL) in a double-blind, parallel-group trial consisting of a 4-week baseline phase and 12 weeks of treatment. The 3-armed study was conducted in 7 centers. The inclusion criterion was tension-type headache on at least 15 days monthly with a duration of at least 6 months. Exclusion criteria were a migraine history, previous participation in another clinical trial within the last 3 months, drug abuse, medication with other antidepressants or tranquilizers, current use of other acknowledged prophylactic headache medication, lack of compliance, major psychiatric disorder according to DSM-III and medical contra-indications against tricyclic antidepressants. The primary study endpoint was a reduction at least 50% of the product of headache duration and frequency and a reduction at least 50% in headache intensity. Statistics used were Fisher's Exact Test and an analysis of variance. A total of 211 patients were included in this trial. One hundred ninety-seven cases, 87 males and 110 females, with a mean age of 38 +/- 13 (18-68) years, could be analysed completely (66 AO, 67 AM, 64 PL). With regard to the strictly defined primary study endpoint, no significant difference emerged between AO, AM and PL: treatment responders were 30.3% with AO, 22.4% with AM and 21.9% with PL (PAO-PL = 0.3210, PAM-PL = 1.000, PAO-AM = 0.3299 respectively).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amitriptyline / adverse effects
  • Amitriptyline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Amitriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Headache / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Amitriptyline
  • amitriptyline N-oxide