Management of pediatric migraine in a tertiary care versus community based emergency department: An observational pilot study

Amy Eapen, Lalitha Sivaswamy, Rajkumar Agarwal, Ronald Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background Because of a lack of guidelines for the management of pediatric migraine in the emergency department setting, marked variations in treatment protocols exist between institutions. We aimed to characterize differences in management strategies for pediatric migraine treatment between a community-based and a tertiary care emergency department. Methods A retrospective cohort study was performed to include pediatric patients presenting with headache fulfilling the International Classification of Headache Disorders-2 migraine criteria in a tertiary care (site 1) and a community based (site 2) emergency department. The two sites were compared with respect to patient demographics and approach to treatment. Results A total of 158 patients at site 1 (mean age 13.6 years, 70% female, 68% African-American) and 63 patients at site 2 (mean age 16.7 years, 71% female, 100% Caucasian) were analyzed. Opiate use (7.6% vs. 33%), imaging (6.3% vs. 20.6%), use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/serotonin agonists at discharge (72.7% vs. 22.2%), and admission rates to hospital (22% vs. 0%) were significantly different. Logistic regression analysis indicated that the main predictors of hospital admission were use of opiates and intravenous combination abortive therapy. Conclusion Low rates of intravenous combination therapy, antidopaminergic agent, and serotonin agonist use were noted across both hospital settings. Community-based physicians used opiates and obtained neuro-imaging more than those in the academic setting. Standardization of care in the emergency setting coupled with reliable acute care plans that are based on evidenced-based guidelines can allow for better control of episodic migraine and reduce emergency department visits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-170
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • emergency department
  • migraine
  • neuroimaging
  • opiates
  • standard combination therapy


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