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Keywords:

  • CADASIL;
  • acute confusional migraine;
  • migraine

Objective.— Characterize the phenomenon of acute confusional migraine (ACM) among Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) patients and emphasize the possibility of CADASIL in adults with ACM.

Background.— ACM, well described in children, has rarely been reported in adults. Although 30-60% of CADASIL patients have migraine, acute confusional state during migraine has not been described. We describe 7 patients with ACM that complicated up to 50% of the migraine episodes.

Design/Methods.— Detailed neurologic evaluation was performed in 20 CADASIL patients; International Classification of Headache Disorders 2nd edition criteria were used to diagnose migraine.

Results.— The mean age was 51 years. Fourteen patients reported headache and 11 met the criteria for migraine (mean age of onset 25). Seven patients experienced concomitant confusion, within 3 years of migraine onset. Confusion occurred either abruptly or insidiously, at the onset of aura or headache, lasting for 2-48 hours, and ending abruptly. These episodes were stereotypic, characterized by disorientation with agitation, and retrograde amnesia for the episodes. Patients reported disorientation to time and place, inability to recognize friends and relatives, difficulty with finding directions home, fear of getting lost, inability to analyze traffic lights or tell time. Patients reliably predicted the episodes and felt the need to seek a safe place for protection. Severity of the episodes progressed, but a striking improvement occurred after the first stroke.

Conclusion.— ACM may be a presenting feature and important clue, enabling CADASIL to be recognized up to a decade or earlier than at present. Therefore, a brain MRI and/or testing for Notch3 mutations should be considered in adult patients with ACM.