Data about the sensitivity and the specificity of the items included in the diagnostic criteria for migraine and tension type headache (TTH) in children is limited and sometimes controversial.
Aim: To evaluate the diagnostic value of characteristics of migraine and TTH included in the diagnostic criteria of ICHD–II and according to results to suggest additional criteria for diagnostic differentiation of primary paediatric headache.
Patients and methods: The investigation consisted of an epidemiological school-based study (1029 pupils completed the study and 412 had chronic or recurrent headache) and a clinical study conducted in Paediatric Neurology Ward and outpatient clinic (203 patients with chronic or recurrent headache). Inclusion criterion was at least two episodes of headache during the last year. Exclusion criteria were: headache occurring only during acute infections; withdrawal of informed consent. ICHD – II was used to classify headache. The diagnostic value of characteristics of migraine and TTH was measured using sensitivity, specificity, odds ratio and area under receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC).
Results: Regarding the AUC, the best diagnostic items for migraine are: moderate or severe intensity or only severe intensity, pain aggravation by physical activity, pulsating quality, respectively, for TTH – no photophobia, no nausea, no aggravation by physical activity, mild or moderate intensity and non-pulsating quality. The most significant symptom for increasing the migraine risk was pulsating pain and the most significant items for TTH risk were no photophobia, bilateral location and no nausea. Family history of migraine also increased migraine risk and could be either included in the diagnostic criteria for migraine or recommended as additional item in differentiating migraine and TTH with overlapping diagnostic criteria. According to AUC, we could recommend changing the content of the item of intensity for migraine as only severe intensity.