Basilar migraine is a complicated headache which the International Headache Society describes as 'migraine with aura symptoms clearly originating from the brainstem or from both occipital lobes'. For years this headache was thought to originate from a transient disturbance in the vertebrobasilar circulation, but more recent studies suggest that a central neuronal disorder may be the source of migraine. Basilar migraines may have certain symptoms which are similar to other neurologic, vascular, psychiatric and metabolic diseases, yet there are specific criteria which can help differentiate it from other diagnoses. It is characterized by a throbbing occipital headache which may be preceded by an aura. The unusual symptoms of basilar migraine, which may precede and continue throughout the duration of the headache and even after it, include bilateral visual symptoms, altered mental status, vertigo, gait ataxia, bilateral paresthesia, bilateral paralysis and dysarthria. We describe a 29-year-old black female whose husband brought her to the emergency department complaining of confusion, headache, and left-sided weakness for 2 h prior to arrival.
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