• epicrania fugax;
  • epicrania;
  • nummular headache;
  • gabapentin

(Headache 2010;50:451-458)

Objective.— We aimed to report 10 new cases of epicrania fugax (EF), showing their clinical features and therapeutic responses.

Background.— Epicrania fugax has been recently described as a paroxysmal head pain starting in a focal area located at a posterior cranial region and rapidly spreading forward to the ipsilateral eye or nose along a linear or zigzag trajectory. In some patients the pain is followed by ocular or nasal autonomic features. In the prior series, 1 patient got pain relief with anesthetic blockades, while another patient improved with carbamazepine.

Methods.— Since the first description of EF, we have assessed 10 patients with the same clinical picture (8 women and 2 men) at the Neurology outpatient offices of our 2 centers.

Results.— The mean age at onset was 48.5 years (SD: 19.8, range: 23-83). All the patients complained of strictly unilateral pain paroxysms starting at parietal (n = 5), occipital (n = 4), or parieto-occipital locations (n = 1), and immediately spreading forward through a linear pathway toward the ipsilateral forehead (n = 3) or the ipsilateral eye (n = 7), the complete sequence lasting 1-10 seconds. No trigger was identified in any of our patients, while 5 of them suffered mild pain in the stemming area between the paroxysms. Three patients had ipsilateral lacrimation, and 2 had conjunctival injection at the end of the attacks. The frequency ranged from 1 attack per week to multiple attacks per day. Neuroimaging and laboratory tests were consistently normal. Interictal pain was responsive to acetaminophen. In 3 cases a preventive was considered in order to avoid the paroxysms. Gabapentin led to significant improvement in 2 cases. The third patient did not obtain any benefit from gabapentin or amitriptyline, but improved slightly with lamotrigine.

Conclusions.— This description reinforces the proposal of EF as a new headache variant or a new headache syndrome. Anesthetic blockades, carbamazepine, gabapentin, and lamotrigine have been apparently effective in individual patients. Further observations and therapeutic trials are needed.