Epicrania Fugax: 19 Cases of an Emerging Headache


  • Conflict of Interest: No conflict.
  • Source of Funding: None.

Address all correspondence to M.L. Cuadrado, Department of Neurology, Hospital Clínico San Carlos, C/Profesor Martín Lagos s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain, email: mlcuadrado@med.ucm.es



Epicrania fugax (EF) is a primary headache of recent description. We aimed to report 19 new cases of EF, and thus contribute to the characterization of this emerging headache.


EF is characterized by painful paroxysms starting in a particular area of the head, and rapidly radiating forwards or backwards through the territories of different nerves. The pain is felt in quick motion along a lineal or zigzag trajectory. To date, 47 cases have been published, 34 with forward EF and 13 with backward EF.


We performed a descriptive study of all EF cases attending our Headache Unit from April 2010 to December 2012. Demographic and clinical data were recorded with a structured questionnaire.


Overall, there were 12 women and 7 men. Mean age at onset was 51.7 ± 16.2. Fourteen patients had forward EF, while 5 patients had backward EF. Painful paroxysms lasted 1-4 seconds. Pain intensity was usually moderate or severe, and pain quality was mostly electric. Four patients had ocular autonomic accompaniments. Pain frequency was extremely variable, and 7 patients identified some triggers. Between attacks, 13 patients had some pain or tenderness in the stemming area. Thirteen patients required therapy for their pain. Neuromodulators, indomethacin, anesthetic blockades, and steroid injections were used in different cases, with partial or complete response.


EF appears as a distinct headache syndrome and could be eventually included in future editions of the International Classification of Headache Disorders.