Comorbidity of epilepsy and headache in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome

Eric H. Kossoff, Laura A. Hatfield, Karen L. Ball, Anne M. Comi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Sturge-Weber syndrome is associated with leptomeningeal angioma, trigeminal port-wine stain, epilepsy, and glaucoma. Clinically, many patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome are observed to have both seizures and headaches, but this has never been described in the literature. A questionnaire was mailed to 190 patients with reported comorbid epilepsy and headache as identified by the Sturge-Weber Foundation. Sixty-eight surveys were returned anonymously; 55 reported both seizures and headaches. The median age at headache onset was 8 years, with a median of three headaches per month. Fifty-eight percent felt that headaches were an equal or greater problem. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen were the most frequently tried abortive medications; 22% had tried sumatriptan. Only 22% reported a neurologist suggesting the use of an anticonvulsant as a preventive agent. Subjects with a family history of headaches had an earlier age at headache onset (7.5 vs 11 years; P =.02), and those with a family history of seizures were more likely to report behavior problems (69% vs 33%; P =.02). Subjects reporting learning problems or hemiparesis had an earlier age at seizure onset. Migraine-like headaches can be as significant a problem as epilepsy for patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome. Despite this, triptans and prophylactic medications (including anticonvulsants) were used in less than half of the patients. Correlations of family history with both age at symptom onset and behavior problems suggest that genetic substrate could be one factor determining the variable neurologic manifestations seen in Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-682
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of child neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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