Trigeminal sensory pathway function in patients with SUNCT

A. Truini, P. Barbanti, F. Galeotti, M. Leandri, G. Cruccu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT) is a rare primary headache whose origins are unclear. To seek information on its pathophysiology, we studied the trigeminal Aβ and Aδ pathways by recording trigeminal reflexes and laser evoked potentials (LEPs) in patients with SUNCT. Methods: Trigeminal reflexes and LEPs were recorded in 11 consecutive patients. Ten patients had neuroimaging evidence documenting idiopathic SUNCT and one had a posterior fossa tumour that compressed the trigeminal nerve thus causing symptomatic SUNCT. Results: Whereas the patients with idiopathic SUNCT had normal trigeminal reflex and LEP responses, the patient with symptomatic SUNCT had abnormal responses. Conclusions: Our neurophysiological findings show that idiopathic SUNCT spares the trigeminal sensory pathways whereas symptomatic SUNCT does not. Significance: Neurophysiological testing can easily differentiate the idiopathic and symptomatic forms of SUNCT. It also suggests that the two forms are pathophysiologically distinct entities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1821-1825
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


  • Laser evoked potentials
  • Trigeminal reflexes
  • Trigeminal system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems


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