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Cluster Headache: Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound And RCBF Studies

Arve Dahl, David Russell, Rolf Nyberg-Hansen, Kjell Rootwelt

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Transcranial Doppler and rCBF examinations were carried out in 25 cluster headache patients. Spontaneous and glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) provoked attacks were accompanied by a bilateral decrease in middle cerebral artery blood flow velocities. This decrease was more pronounced on the symptomatic side but the difference did not reach statistical significance. Mean hemispheric blood flow and rCBF were within normal limits during provoked attacks and similar to those found when patients were attack-free. During cluster periods middle cerebral artery velocities were significantly higher on the symptomatic side. Glyceryl trinitrate caused a bilateral middle cerebral artery velocity decrease which was significantly greater on the symptomatic side. Attacks provoked by glyceryl trinitrate appeared to begin when the vasodilatory effect of this substance was receding.