Opioids Used More Than Migraine Drugs in ER Treatment of Isolated Headache

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 08 – Most patients who present to US emergency rooms (ERs) with isolated benign headache are treated with at least two medications, according to a report published in the March issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine. The most commonly used medication is meperidine, while abortive migraine drugs are used less.
Dr. David R. Vinson, from The Permanente Medical Group in Roseville, California, analyzed data on nearly 1.5 million adult patients with migraine headache or unspecified headache seen in US emergency rooms.

A total of 36 different treatment medications were identified. On average, patients were treated with 1.8 medications, the author notes. Nearly 85% of patients with migraine headaches received a parenteral agent.

After meperidine, the most commonly used drugs were ketorolac and prochlorperazine. In most patients, anti-emetics were given when a parental opioid was used. However, anti-emetics without established antiheadache effects were used much more often than those with such effects, Dr. Vinson notes.

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