Epidemiology and clinical features of paroxysmal hemicrania: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Mikkel J Henningsen, Johanne G Larsen, William K Karlsson, Rune H Christensen, Haidar M Al-Khazali, Faisal Mohammad Amin, Håkan Ashina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence or relative frequency of paroxysmal hemicrania and its clinical features in the adult general population and among adult patients evaluated for headache in tertiary care.

BACKGROUND: Paroxysmal hemicrania is a rare trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia with characteristic attacks of headache, associated cranial autonomic symptoms and signs, and an absolute response to indomethacin. Its epidemiological burden remains unknown in both the adult general population and among adult patients evaluated for headache in a tertiary care setting. Moreover, the frequencies of the clinical features associated with paroxysmal hemicrania have not been well established.

METHODS: A literature search of PubMed and Embase was conducted from January 1, 1988, to January 20, 2023. Eligible for inclusion were observational studies reporting the point prevalence or relative frequency of paroxysmal hemicrania or its clinical features in the adult general population or among adult patients evaluated for headache in tertiary care. Two independent investigators (M.J.H. and J.G.L.) performed the title, abstract, and full-text article screening. Each included study's risk of bias was critically appraised using the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist for Studies Reporting Prevalence Data. Estimates of prevalence or relative frequency were calculated using a random-effects meta-analysis. The between-study heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistic and further explored with meta-regression. This study was pre-registered on PROSPERO (identifier: CRD42023391127).

RESULTS: A total of 17 clinic-based studies and one population-based study met the eligibility criteria. Importantly, an overall high risk of bias was observed across the eligible studies. The relative frequency of paroxysmal hemicrania was estimated to be 0.3% (95% CI, 0.2%-0.5%) among adult patients evaluated for headache in tertiary care with considerable heterogeneity (I2  = 76.4%). No cases with paroxysmal hemicrania were identified among 1,838 participants in a population-based sample. Moreover, the most prevalent cranial autonomic symptoms were lacrimation (77.3% [95% Cl, 62.7%-87.3%]), conjunctival injection (75.0% [95% Cl, 60.3%-85.6%]), and nasal congestion (47.7% [95% Cl, 33.6%-62.3%]).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that paroxysmal hemicrania is a rare disorder among adults evaluated for headache in tertiary care, while its prevalence in the general population remains unknown. Further studies focusing on the clinical features of paroxysmal hemicrania are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHeadache
Volume64
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages11
ISSN0017-8748
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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