Acute and preventive pharmacologic treatment of cluster headache

George J Francis, Werner J Becker, Tamara M Pringsheim
Neurology 2010 August 3, 75 (5): 463-73
Cluster headache (CH) is a rare and disabling primary headache disorder. CH attacks are unilateral, short, severe headaches associated with ipsilateral autonomic symptoms that occur in a periodic fashion. We provide a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing trials of pharmacotherapy for CH and evidence-based suggestions for acute abortive treatment and preventive therapy for cluster headache. Prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled trials of any pharmacologic agent for the symptomatic relief or prevention of CH were included in this evidence-based review. The main outcomes considered were headache response and pain-free response at 15 and 30 minutes for acute treatment trials, and the cessation of CH attacks within a specific time period or the number of days on which CH attacks occurred for preventive trials. Twenty-seven trials were included in the analysis. The American Academy of Neurology quality criteria were used to assess trial quality and to grade advisements. Based on the evidence, for acute treatment of CH, Level A advice can be given for subcutaneous sumatriptan 6 mg, zolmitriptan nasal spray 5 mg and 10 mg, and 100% oxygen 6-12 L/min. Level B advice can be given for sumatriptan nasal spray 20 mg and oral zolmitriptan 5 mg and 10 mg. For the prevention of CH, Level B advice can be given for intranasal civamide 100 microg daily and suboccipital steroid injections, and Level C advice can be given for verapamil 360 mg, lithium 900 mg, and melatonin 10 mg.

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