How are recurrent headaches in Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) treated?

Updated: Dec 26, 2018
  • Author: Masanori Takeoka, MD; Chief Editor: George I Jallo, MD  more...
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Recurrent headaches can be treated with symptomatic and prophylactic medications. Kossoff et al found evidence that headaches in SWS may be undertreated. The investigators evaluated 68 patients with SWS regarding headaches, identified through the Sturge-Weber Foundation. [97] Mean onset of the headaches was 8 years. Fifty-five of the 68 patients had epilepsy as well. Twenty-two of these patients perceived that the headaches were a more significant problem compared with their epilepsy. A positive family history of headaches was seen in 37 of these patients.

Most of the patients were using only abortive treatment, mainly acetaminophen and ibuprofen, while only 15 were tried on preventative agents, including gabapentin, valproate, and amitriptyline (none were on beta-adrenergic blockers).

Kossoff et al also reported that in SWS, triptans and preventative agents appear to be effective for headaches. In the study, 104 patients with SWS and migraine headaches self-reported treatment patterns through a questionnaire. [98]

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