Blood Flow Velocity and Pulsatility Index Differences in Patients With Unilateral Migraine


Address all correspondence to Dr. Oleg Y. Chernyshev, The University of Texas-Houston, Department of Neurology, 6431 Fannin Street, Room 7044, Houston, TX 77030.


Objective.—To evaluate blood flow velocity and pulsatility in unilateral migraine without aura during the headache-free period using transcranial Doppler (TCD) sonography.

Methods.—Patients with unilateral headache were recruited during the headache-free period. Maximum mean flow velocity (MFV) and pulsatility index (PI) were measured in the middle cerebral (MCA) and basilar arteries. Controls were headache-free individuals without cerebrovascular disease.

Results.—Twenty-five patients with right-sided migraine, 25 patients with left-sided migraine, and 19 controls were studied. The MCA PI was higher on the right headache side versus the left headache side (0.97 ± 0.2 versus 0.86 ± 0.1 cm/s, P = .02) and versus controls (0.9 ± 0.2 cm/s, NS). The basilar artery MFV was higher in patients with right-sided headache versus left-sided headache (39.5 ± 5.6 versus 34.7 ± 8.2 cm/s, P = .02) and versus controls (38.2 ± 8 cm/s, NS). No decrease in MFV with age was observed in patients with migraine.

Conclusions.—Middle cerebral artery flow pulsatility and basilar artery velocity are higher in patients with right-sided migraine compared with left-sided migraineurs, during the headache-free period. Although these parameters were similar to controls, the differences found during the headache-free period in migraineurs may indicate vascular involvement predisposing to the unilateral headache recurrence.