Migraine with aura and right-to-left shunt on transcranial Doppler: a case-control study

Cerebrovasc Dis. 1998 Nov-Dec;8(6):327-30. doi: 10.1159/000015875.


Right-to-left shunt (RLS), usually due to patent foramen ovale, is a well-established risk factor for ischemic stroke in young patients, while the role of migraine as an independent factor is still debated. We evaluated 44 patients suffering from migraine with aura, and compared them with 73 patients younger than 50 with focal cerebral ischemia, and 50 controls, asymptomatic for cerebrovascular disease, and without a history of migraine. All the subjects underwent bilateral transcranial Doppler with injection of contrast medium in an antecubital vein. The test was performed during normal ventilation and during Valsalva maneuver, recording both the middle cerebral arteries and the basilar artery. Criteria for diagnosing RLS was the presence of at least 3 microbubbles within 15 s from injection. Eighteen out of 44 migraine patients (41%) showed RLS, as opposed to 8 of 50 controls (16%) (p < 0.005). Twenty-six out of 73 patients with cerebral ischemia had RLS (35%). We conclude that the prevalence of RLS in patients with migraine with aura is significantly higher than in normal controls, and is similar to the prevalence of RLS in young patients with stroke. These findings could be helpful in understanding the relationship between migraine and stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / complications
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial