Evidence of Diplopia in Children's Headache Drawings Helps to Differentiate Pseudotumor Cerebri From Migraine

Erica B. Lee, Fredrick S. Edelman, Carl Stafstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: This study aimed to determine whether children's headache drawings can distinguish between pseudotumor cerebri and migraine. Background: Headache features associated with pseudotumor cerebri (pseudotumor; idiopathic intracranial hypertension) are nonspecific and are difficult to distinguish clinically from migraines. Children's headache drawings have a high predictive value for migraine versus nonmigraine headaches. We hypothesized that drawings could help to differentiate pediatric headaches due to pseudotumor cerebri from those associated with migraines. Methods: Children aged six to 18 years old attending university hospital pediatric neurology clinics were asked to draw a picture of how their headache feels. From our database of children's headache drawings, pictures by children with clinically diagnosed pseudotumor were compared with migraine drawings. Results: Headache drawings of 21 children (16 females) with pseudotumor were compared with those of 518 children with migraine. Pseudotumor drawings depicted a variety of symptoms including pounding pain (n = 11), pressure-like pain (n = 3), photophobia (3), dizziness (1), and recumbency (1). Severe pain indicators included hammers, bombs, anvil, and vise grip. Positive visual phenomena included scintillations, scotomata, or blurring (n = 8). Negative visual phenomena included field defects (n = 2). Pseudotumor drawings were similar to migraine drawings except that 6 of 21 pseudotumor drawings (28.6%) depicted diplopia (crossed eyes, double images), whereas only three of 518 migraine drawings (0.6%) depicted diplopia (P < 0.000001). Conclusions: Diplopia was depicted in a significantly higher percentage of pseudotumor drawings than migraine drawings. In all other respects, headache drawings by children with pseudotumor cerebri were similar to those drawn by children with migraine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-44
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • art
  • children
  • diplopia
  • drawing
  • headache
  • migraine
  • pseudotumor cerebri

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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