Get access

Migraine Is Associated With Livedo Reticularis: A Prospective Study


Address all correspondence to Dr. Gretchen E. Tietjen, 3120 Glendale Avenue, Toledo, OH 43614.


Objective.—To investigate the relationship of livedo reticularis, an ischemic dermatopathy, and migraine, an ischemic stroke risk factor.

Background.—Livedo reticularis refers to the reddish-blue reticular mottling of the skin resulting from narrowing of small and medium arteries at the dermis-subcutis border. A subset of patients with livedo reticularis develop stroke in the absence of other vascular risk factors, which has been termed Sneddon syndrome. We undertook this prospective study in a non-neurology clinic to delineate further the relationship of livedo reticularis and migraine.

Methods.—Patients in a general dermatology clinic were interviewed for vascular risk factors and history of migraine in accordance with the International Headache Society (IHS) criteria. A dermatologist, not familiar with the interview, recorded the primary dermatological diagnosis and the presence or absence of livedo reticularis on examination.

Results.—Two hundred eighty-one consecutive patients (184 women and 97 men; average age, 52 years) were interviewed and examined. Seventy-five (27%) had migraine (IHS codes 1.1, 1.2) and an additional 18 (6%) had atypical migraine (IHS 1.7). Livedo reticularis was noted in 46 patients (16%), with the frequency higher in women than men (42 [23%] of 184 versus 4 [4%] of 97; P < .0001). The frequency of livedo reticularis in patients with migraine was higher than in those without migraine (24 [26%] of 93 versus 22 [12%] of 188; P = .002), and higher in female than male migraineurs (23 [32%] of 72 versus 1 [5%] of 21; P = .012). In logistic regression analysis of the women, migraine was associated with livedo reticularis (odds ratio [OR], 2.3; confidence interval [CI], 1.08 to 4.71), as well as with stroke (OR, 4.0; CI, 0.87 to 18.21), coronary artery disease (OR, 3.5; CI, 1.16 to 10.33), and deep venous thrombosis (OR, 3.2; CI, 0.98 to 10.32).

Conclusions.—In women, migraine is associated with stroke, coronary artery disease, deep venous thrombosis, as well as livedo reticularis, a dermatopathy which has been pathologically linked to cerebral vasculopathy. Whether migraineurs with livedo reticularis compose a subset at higher risk of thrombosis, including stroke, deserves further investigation.