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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • child;
  • treatment

Objective

To compare outcomes of pediatric migraine patients treated in an emergency department (ED) before and after implementation of a standardized combination intravenous therapy regimen aimed toward improving and standardizing abortive migraine therapy.

Background

In a pediatric ED, migraines represent 8-18% of all headache visits. Despite this large number, no standard treatment for acute migraine therapy currently exists.

Methods

The study utilized a retrospective chart review of patients seeking acute migraine treatment at a tertiary care, pediatric ED from August 2006 to March 2010. Inclusion criteria were pediatric migraine patients as defined by International Headache Society guidelines. The comparison population received various migraine therapies based on attending practice preference. After October 2008, patients received standardized intravenous combination therapy involving a normal saline fluid bolus, ketorolac, prochlorperazine, and diphenhydramine. Occasionally, metoclopramide was substituted during prochlorperazine shortages. Reduction in headache pain score was the primary outcome. Secondary outcome measures included length of ED stay, hospital admission rate, and ED readmission rate within 48 hours.

Results

The study yielded 87 patients who received standardized combination therapy and 165 comparison patients. No significant difference in patient characteristics existed when evaluating patient demographics, outpatient medication use, and initial headache pain score. When compared with the non-standardized therapy population, the combination therapy patients revealed significant reductions in pain score (decrease of 5.3 vs 6.9, difference −1.6, 95% confidence interval −2.2 to −0.8, P < .001), length of ED stay (5.3 vs 4.4 hours, difference 0.9, 95% confidence interval 0.2-1.6, P = .008), and hospital admission rate (32% vs 3%, P < .001) without changes in ED return rate (7% vs 2%, P = .148).

Conclusion

Standardized combination therapy is effective for acute pediatric migraine therapy in the ED by significantly reducing headache pain scores, length of ED stay, and hospital admission rates.