Childhood primary stabbing headache: A double center study

Gabriele Monte, Laura Papetti, Fabiana Ursitti, Giorgia Sforza, Samuela Tarantino, Martina Checchi Proietti, Daniela D'Agnano, Vittorio Sciruicchio, Massimiliano Valeriani

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


BACKGROUND: Primary stabbing headache (PSH) is an idiopathic headache disorder characterized by head pain occurring as a transient and localized single stab or a series of stabs. The present study aimed to examine the characteristics of childhood PSH and whether they fit the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (ICHD-3) criteria. We also investigated the association with migraine and episodic syndromes.

METHODS: In this retrospective study, we included 60 patients seen at two headache clinics (Rome and Bari) between 2016 and 2022. A headache-focused history was obtained. All patients had normal neurological examination. PSH was defined according to ICHD-3 criteria.

RESULTS: Twenty-three patients were male (38%) and median (range) age at disease onset was 8 (3-17) years. Stabs recurred with irregular frequency and their duration varied from a few seconds up to 30 minutes. Stabs were located in different head regions. Twenty-five patients (42%) underwent neuroimaging exams. Five children reported a limitation of daily activities and none had a chronic pattern. Forty-seven patients (78%) reported a family history of primary headache, especially migraine, and forty-three had episodic syndromes (i.e. infantile colic, benign paroxysmal vertigo, motion sickness, recurrent abdominal pain, cyclic vomiting). Twenty patients had an associated primary headache: 16 suffered from migraine and four suffered from tension type-headache. According to ICHD-3 criteria, thirty-one patients had a diagnosis of probable PSH as a result of a duration of stabs longer than a few seconds (>3 seconds).

CONCLUSIONS: Features of childhood PSH can vary widely. As seen in previous studies, several patients reported a stab duration longer than a few seconds and this might suggest that current ICHD-3 criteria may need adjustments to be suitable for children. High frequency of associated migraine and episodic syndromes could suggest a common pathophysiological mechanism between PSH and migraine. We can hypothesize that PSH and migraine attacks may be part of a spectrum of the same disease, although further evidence is needed. Larger studies with long-term follow-up are needed to improve understanding of this condition.

TidsskriftCephalalgia : an international journal of headache
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)3331024231225974
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2024


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