Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Changes in cerebral blood flow during a migraine attack.

Br Med J 1975; 3 doi: (Published 20 September 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;3:676
  1. J W Norris,
  2. V C Hachinski,
  3. P W Cooper


    Regional cerebral blood flow studies during a typical prodromal phase of a migraine attack in a young woman showed a global decrease of cerebral blood flow in the carotid artery territory. These studies were repeated during the subsequent headache phase of the same attack and hemispheric blood flow increased considerably. Ergotamine tartrate was then administered intramuscularly which brought definite relief of symptoms but no change in cerebral blood flow. Carotid angiography performed immediately afterwards showed retrograde filling of the proximal portion of the basilar artery, which suggested that the brain stem was the site of hyper-perfusion. These findings illustrate certain features underlying both the pathophysiology of migraine itself and its response to ergotamine preparations.