Occipital arteriovenous malformations and migraine

Francesca Galletti, Paola Sarchielli, Mohamed Hamam, Cinzia Costa, Letizia M. Cupini, Gabriela Cardaioli, Vincenzo Belcastro, Paolo Eusebi, Pierpaolo Lunardi, Paolo Calabresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Headache has been reported to be the first clinical presentation in several patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Headache associated with AVMs often shows characteristics of migraine with and without aura. Angiographic characteristics of AVMs, such as their location, could determine the 'migraine-like' features of attacks.Methods: We performed an observational study of the clinical and angiographic characteristics of a cohort of 40 consecutive patients with AVMs who had been admitted to our institute for endovascular embolization over a 4-year period. Headache was characterized according to ICHD-II criteria. The relationship between headaches and the angioarchitectural features of AVMs was also analysed.Results: Migraine-like headache was the first clinical manifestation in 22.5% of patients. The location of the malformation was significantly associated with migraine-like presentation (p = 0.03) and the occipital lobe was the predominant site.Conclusions: An occipital location may be linked with spreading depression, a pathogenic mechanism of migraine. Headache associated with arteriovenous malformations in the occipital lobe, although secondary in nature, could have clinical features similar to migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1320-1324
Number of pages5
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • Angiography
  • arteriovenous malformations
  • headache
  • migraine
  • spreading depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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