Management of Adults With Acute Migraine in the Emergency Department: The American Headache Society Evidence Assessment of Parenteral Pharmacotherapies
Conflict of Interest: The authors have no financial conflicts of interest to report.
To provide evidence-based treatment recommendations for adults with acute migraine who require treatment with injectable medication in an emergency department (ED). We addressed two clinically relevant questions: (1) Which injectable medications should be considered first-line treatment for adults who present to an ED with acute migraine? (2) Do parenteral corticosteroids prevent recurrence of migraine in adults discharged from an ED?
The American Headache Society convened an expert panel of authors who defined a search strategy and then performed a search of Medline, Embase, the Cochrane database and clinical trial registries from inception through 2015. Identified articles were rated using the American Academy of Neurology's risk of bias tool. For each medication, the expert panel determined likelihood of efficacy. Recommendations were created accounting for efficacy, adverse events, availability of alternate therapies, and principles of medication action.
The search identified 68 unique randomized controlled trials utilizing 28 injectable medications. Of these, 19 were rated class 1 (low risk of bias), 21 were rated class 2 (higher risk of bias), and 28 were rated class 3 (highest risk of bias). Metoclopramide, prochlorperazine, and sumatriptan each had multiple class 1 studies supporting acute efficacy, as did dexamethasone for prevention of headache recurrence. All other medications had lower levels of evidence.
Intravenous metoclopramide and prochlorperazine, and subcutaneous sumatriptan should be offered to eligible adults who present to an ED with acute migraine (Should offer—Level B). Dexamethasone should be offered to these patients to prevent recurrence of headache (Should offer—Level B). Because of lack of evidence demonstrating efficacy and concern about sub-acute or long-term sequelae, injectable morphine and hydromorphone are best avoided as first-line therapy (May avoid–Level C).