Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Childhood Headache


  • Presented at the 17th annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society, Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 16, 1988.



Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured in 16 cranial regions in 23 children and adolescents with frequent headaches using the non-invasive Xenon-133 inhalation technique. Blood flow response to 5% carbon dioxide (CO2) was also determined in 21 patients, while response to 50% oxygen was measured in the two patients with hemoglobinopathy. Included were 10 patients with a clinical diagnosis of migraine, 4 with musculoskeletal headaches, and 3 with features of both types. Also studied were 2 patients with primary thrombocythemia, 2 patients with hemoglobinopathy and headaches, 1 patient with polycythemia, and 1 with headaches following trauma. With two exceptions, rCBF determinations were done during an asymptomatic period. Baseline rCBF values tended to be higher in these young patients than in young adults done in our laboratory. Localized reduction in the expected blood flow surge after CO2 inhalation, most often noted posteriorly, was seen in 8 of the 13 vascular headaches, but in none of the musculoskeletal headache group. Both patients with primary thrombocythemia had normal baseline flow values and altered responsiveness to CO2 similar to that seen in migraineurs; thus, the frequently reported headache and transient neurologic signs with primary thrombocythemia are probably not due to microvascular obstruction as previously suggested. These data support the concept of pediatric migraine as a disorder of vasomotor function and also add to our knowledge of normal rCBF values in younger patients. Demonstration of altered vasomotor reactivity to CO2 could prove helpful in children whoseheadache is atypical.