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In-Patient Treatment of Chronic Daily Headache Using Dihydroergotamine: a Long-term Follow-up Study

Tamara Pringsheim and David Howse

Abstract: Background: The treatment of chronic daily headache (CDH) due to medication overuse remains a common and difficult problem. For selected patients refractory to outpatient management we have used a treatment protocol using dihydroergotamine (DHE) as introduced by Raskin, during a brief (typically 48 hours) in-patient stay. While many studies have documented the short-term efficacy of the DHE protocol, there are limited data on its long-term effects. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the protocol on headache frequency and severity, analgesic use, absences from work, and quality of life, at three months post treatment and the present time. Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients admitted for the DHE protocol from 1991 to 1996 revealed 174 cases. Of these, 132 patients were interviewed by phone. Results: The DHE protocol was shown to decrease headache frequency, severity, headache medication use, and absences from work both at three months and the time of interview. Conclusion: This study has the largest patient base and the longest follow-up period for the use of DHE for CDH. The results confirm that the DHE protocol is helpful in breaking the cycle of CDH, although the long-term outcomes of this study are more conservative than other studies have reported.


Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1998; 25: 146-150


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