Journal of Neurology

, Volume 238, Issue 1, pp 23–26 | Cite as

Cerebrovascular CO2 reactivity in migraine: assessment by transcranial Doppler ultrasound

  • C. Harer
  • R. von Kummer
Original Investigations


Cerebrovascular reactivity to CO2 inhalation was studied by transcranial Doppler sonography in 30 patients with classic or common migraine and 39 healthy controls without clinical or ultrasonic signs of arteriosclerosis. Systolic and diastolic Doppler frequencies of the middle cerebral artery were plotted against end-tidal CO2 partial pressure; the reactivity index (I×R) was defined as relative frequency change during a PCO2 increase of 5 mm Hg. In the normal subjects, I×R was 20.0±6.3 for systolic velocities, and 26.0±8.2 for diastolic values. Migraineurs during their headache-free interval had significantly higher I×R values on the affected side (mean: 41.6 systolic, 61.2 diastolic), compared with either controls (P<0.01) or the contralateral side (mean: 28.3 systolic, 30.8 diastolic; P<0.01). During the headache attack, CO2 reactivity was significantly lower than normal only for systolic velocities (mean: 8.3; P<0.05). Increased CO2 reactivity is thought to be one phenomenon of migraine. Transcranial Doppler CO2 testing of cerebrovascular reactivity is a reliable method that may be of interest for the diagnostic evaluation and management of migraine patients.

Key words

Migraine Transcranial Doppler ultrasound Cerebrovascular reactivity Carbon dioxide 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Harer
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. von Kummer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of NeurosonologyThe Bowman Gray School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergFederal Republic of Germany

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