Epigone migraine vertigo (EMV): a late migraine equivalent

P Pagnini, P Vannucchi, B Giannoni, R Pecci
Acta Otorhinolaryngologica Italica 2014, 34 (1): 62-70
Migrainous headache is determined by pathogenetic mechanisms that are also able to affect the peripheral and/or central vestibular system, so that vestibular symptoms may substitute and/or present with headache. We are convinced that there can be many different manifestations of vestibular disorders in migrainous patients, representing true different clinical entities due to their different characteristics and temporal relashionship with headache. Based on such considerations, we proposed a classification of vertigo and other vestibular disorders related to migraine, and believe that a particular variant of migraine-related vertigo should be introduced, namely "epigone migraine vertigo" (EMV): this could be a kind of late migraine equivalent, i.e. a kind of vertigo, migrainous in origin, starting late in the lifetime that substitutes, as an equivalent, pre-existing migraine headache. To clarify this particular clinical picture, we report three illustrative clinical cases among 28 patients collected during an observation period of 13 years (November 1991 - November 2004). For all patients, we collected complete personal clinical history. All patients underwent standard neurotological examination, looking for spontaneous-positional, gaze-evoked and caloric induced nystagmus, using an infrared video camera. We also performed a head shaking test (HST) and an head thrust test (HTT). Ocular motility was tested looking at saccades and smooth pursuit. To exclude other significant neurological pathologies, a brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with gadolinium was performed. During the three months after the first visit, patients were invited to keep a diary noting frequency, intensity and duration of vertigo attacks. After that period, we suggested that they use prophylactic treatment with flunarizine (5 mg per day) and/or acetylsalicylic acid (100 mg per day), or propranolol (40 mg twice a day). All patients were again recommended to note in their diary the frequency and intensity of both headache and vertigo while taking prophylactic therapy. Control visits were programmed after 4, 12 and 24 months of therapy. All patients considerably improved symptoms with therapy: 19 subjects (68%) reported complete disappearance of vestibular symptoms, while 9 (32%) considered symptoms very improved. The subjective judgement was corroborated by data from patients diaries. We conclude that EMV is a clinical variant of typical migraine-related vertigo: a migraineassociated vertigo, headache spell independent, following a headache period, during the lifetime of a patient.

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