Intravenous ketorolac vs intravenous prochlorperazine for the treatment of migraine headaches

Acad Emerg Med. 1998 Jun;5(6):573-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1998.tb02463.x.


Objective: To compare i.v. ketorolac with i.v. prochlorperazine as the initial treatment of migraine headaches in the ED.

Methods: A prospective, double-blind comparison study was performed, using a convenience sample of 64 patients suffering from migraine headaches presenting to the ED at a tertiary care university teaching hospital. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either 10 mg of prochlorperazine i.v. or 30 mg of ketorolac i.v.. Patients scored the severity of their headaches using a 10-cm visual analog pain scale. An initial mark was made on the scale at the time of entry into the study and later another mark was made on a new unmarked pain scale 1 hour after medication administration. Changes in pain scores within each treatment group and between groups were analyzed using the Wilcoxon rank sum test.

Results: Prior to treatment, the patients assigned to receive prochlorperazine had a median score of 9.2 cm (mean +/- SD pain score of 8.3 cm +/- 2.1 cm), while the patients receiving ketorolac had a median score of 9.0 (mean pain score of 8.4 cm +/- 1.7 cm). There was no significant difference between the pain scores of the participants in the 2 groups prior to treatment (p = 0.80). One hour after medication administration, the patients in the prochlorperazine group had a median score of 0.5 cm (mean 2.1 +/- 3.2 cm), while those patients receiving ketorolac had a median pain score of 3.9 (mean 4.0 +/- 3.3 cm). The decrease in pain score was significant for both groups of patients (p = 0.0001). The change in pain score for the patients in the prochlorperazine group (median 7.1) was significantly greater than the change in pain score for the patients in the ketorolac group (median 4.0; p = 0.04).

Conclusion: Although both drugs were associated with a significant reduction in pain scores, benefit over a placebo agent was not tested. Furthermore, the patients who received prochlorperazine i.v. for migraine headaches had a statistically significant greater decrease in their pain scores than did those receiving ketorolac i.v.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Ketorolac
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prochlorperazine / administration & dosage
  • Prochlorperazine / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tolmetin / administration & dosage
  • Tolmetin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tolmetin / therapeutic use


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Tolmetin
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Ketorolac