Status migrainosus is a condition with limited epidemiological knowledge, and no evidence-based treatment guideline or rational-driven assessment of successful treatment outcome. To fill this gap, we performed a prospective observational study in which we documented effectiveness of treatment approaches commonly used in a tertiary headache clinic.
Patients with episodic and chronic migraine who experienced continuous and prolonged attacks for more than 72 hours were treated with dexamethasone (4 mg orally twice daily for 3 days), ketorolac (60 mg intramuscularly), bilateral nerve blocks (1-2% lidocaine, 0.1-0.2 ml for both supraorbital and supratrochlear nerves, 1 ml for both auriculotemporal nerves, and 1 ml for both greater occipital nerves), or naratriptan (2.5 mg twice daily for 5 days). Hourly (for the first 24 hours) and daily (for first 30 days) change in headache intensity was documented using appropriate headache diaries.
Fifty-four patients provided eligible data for 60 treatment attempts. The success rate of rendering patients pain free within 24 hours and maintaining the pain-free status for 48 hours was 4/13 (31%) for dexamethasone, 7/29 (24%) for nerve blocks, 1/9 (11%) for ketorolac and 1/9 (11%) for naratriptan. These success rates depended on time to remission, as the longer we allowed the treatments to begin to work and patients to become pain free (i.e. 2, 12, 24, 48, 72, or 96 hours), the more likely patients were to achieve and maintain a pain-free status for at least 48 hours.
These findings suggest that current treatment approaches to terminating status migrainosus are not satisfactory and call attention to the need to develop a more scientific approach to define a treatment response for status migrainosus.