Chlorpromazine for the Treatment of Migraine in a Pediatric Emergency Department

Authors

  • Jessica M. Kanis MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
    • Address all correspondence to J. Kanis, Division of Emergency Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA, email: jmkanis@gmail.com

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  • Nathan L. Timm MD

    1. Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA
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  • Conflict of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
  • Funding Source: This study received no financial support.
  • Financial Disclosure: The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

Abstract

Background

Migraine headache is a common presenting condition to the pediatric emergency department (PED). Dopamine receptor antagonists, such as prochlorperazine and metoclopramide, serve as the primary treatment for migraine headache in many emergency departments; however, in 2012, our institution experienced a shortage of these drugs, resulting in the use of alternative medications. Chlorpromazine was included as an option for treatment at our institution during this shortage, although limited data exist on the effectiveness in children.

Objective

The objectives of this study were: (1) to compare the treatment failure rate of chlorpromazine in the treatment of migraine headache in youth presenting to the PED with those who received prochlorperazine; and (2) to identify the frequency and type of adverse events, and change in pain score.

Methods

We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients 12-21 years of age treated for migraine headache in our emergency department. Our treatment group received intravenous chlorpromazine between February and April 2012, while the comparison group consisted of children treated with intravenous prochlorperazine between February and April 2011. The outcomes of interest were: (1) treatment failure, defined as need for additional therapy, hospitalization or 48-hour return; (2) adverse reactions to drug therapy; and (3) change in pain score.

Results

This study yielded 75 patients in the treatment group and 274 in the comparison group. Forty percent (30/75) of the treatment group had treatment failure compared with 15% (41/274) of the comparison group. There was no difference in mean change in pain score between the groups. The most common adverse effects included hypotension in the treatment group (12%) and akathisia in the comparison group (12%).

Conclusions

This is the first study that has examined the use of chlorpromazine as a therapy in pediatric migraines. Abortive therapy for migraine headache in the PED with chlorpromazine is associated with greater need for rescue medication and hospitalization, and higher rates of hypotension.

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