Open Access

Observations of the “carry–over effect” following successful termination of chronic migraine in the adolescent with short–term dihydroergotamine, dexamethasone and hydroxyzine: a pilot study

The Journal of Headache and Pain20056:148

Received: 20 September 2004

Accepted: 14 December 2004

Published: 25 January 2005


Chronic migraine management almost always requires daily oral preventative medication with potential adverse effects. Daily oral preventative therapy may also not be effective in terminating chronic migraine. Chronic central sensitisation caused by repetitive migraine attacks in a young person may lower the threshold for future migraine episodes leading to an intractable and debilitating disease course. The objective was to determine if short–term parenteral dihydroergotamine, dexamethasone and hydroxyzine can terminate chronic migraine and be followed by a continuous respite or conversion to a more benign episodic form without the need for daily oral preventative medication (“carry–over effect”). We treated ten patients, seven adolescents and three adults, with parenteral dihydroergotamine, dexamethasone and hydroxyzine given once a week for a maximum of three weeks. No oral preventative daily medication was administered. The setting was a private practice. Chronic migraine was terminated in all 7 adolescents. Their post–treatment course was converted to a more benign episodic migraine course and no adolescent required daily oral migraine preventative therapy for significantly long carry–over post–treatment observational periods. None of the three adult chronic migraine cases could be terminated satisfactorily as they all required daily oral preventative therapy. In the adolescent group only, this strategy terminated chronic migraine and resulted in a significant carry–over effect that appeared to favourably modify the long–term course without the need for daily pharmacological, potentially toxic, preventive therapy. Although this is a very small study, which requires confirmation by a larger controlled study, our data suggest a significant carryover effect in the young migraineur by administering short–term parenteral dihydroergotamine, dexamethasone and hydroxyzine.

Key words

Transformed migraine Chronic migraine Chronic daily headache Carry–over effect Adolescent Central sensitization