S Usai

University of Milan, Milano, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (82)170.62 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It has been postulated that chronic pain and chronic migraine in particular, can be connected to immunologic disturbances. Moreover the psychiatric comorbidity is often responsible of migraine chronification, but also of developing of particular immune function alterations. The role of the immune system in migraine precipitation is still under debate also if speculations about the evidence of infections in migraine patients has been performed, but not always corroborated by clinical and scientific explanations. In this report we present an evaluation of specific immune parameters in patients suffering from different forms of migraine respect to controls in order to determine possible alterations in immune function: speculations about the evidenced abnormalities are attempted.
    05/2014; 35 Suppl 1:171-3.
  • Licia Grazzi, Susanna Usai
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    ABSTRACT: The application of Botulinum toxin for several pathological conditions has been largely debated in the last decades and its use has been definitively consolidated for disorders related to increased muscle tone and hyperidrosis. Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT-A) is a potent toxin produced by an anaerobic bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, which presents several pharmacological proprieties, but also different and serious contraindications. As chronic migraine (CM) is commonly reported as a serious and debilitating condition and a big challenge from the therapeutic point of view, in the last decades, after isolated observations, BoNT-A has been applied as preventive treatment for CM patients and, after randomized and rigorous studies, it has been accepted among the most effective pharmacological treatments for these problematic patients. In the present report, a group of patients suffering from CM with medication overuse was treated with BoNT-A to verify its efficacy for CM. The results confirmed the efficacy of BoNT-A when used at the dosage of 155 UI, according with the PREEMPT study protocol. Although these results are preliminary, in a limited group of patients, they led to intense efforts to enforce the use of BoNT-A for CM and to assess its clinical applicability.
    05/2014; 35 Suppl 1:37-9.
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of the study is to assess validity, reliability and factor structure of the Italian version of Migraine-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire v2.1 (MSQ) in patients suffering from chronic migraine (CM) with a history of medication overuse (MO). Patients were enroled at hospital admission for withdrawal from MO. Factor analysis was used to confirm the latent structure of the MSQ. Reliability was measured with Cronbach's alpha coefficient, item-total correlation and inter-item correlation. Construct validity was assessed with Pearson's coefficient and known-group analysis. The three-factor structure is basically confirmed. Cronbach's alpha varied between 0.85 and 0.92; item-total correlations were on average higher than 0.70; average inter-item correlation ranged between 0.63 and 0.65. Correlations were all significant; known-group analysis shows that MSQ score was lower consistently with disease severity. Our findings confirm the factor structure, reliability and validity of the MSQ and expand results of previous validation studies to the Italian language and to a group of patients with severe CM requiring withdrawal treatment for MO.
    Quality of Life Research 10/2013; · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Headache disorders determine relevant personal and societal burden, and thus the use of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) investigating the level of disability and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) have been increasingly used in headache research. The aim of this review was to address the status of research on disability and HRQoL, by addressing results from recently published clinical trials as well as in longitudinal observational studies on headache patients. PubMed has been searched for papers in which measures of HRQoL and/or disability were used as primary or secondary outcome on adult subjects with primary headache, and published in 2010-2012. Among the 70 records retrieved, 12 papers were selected for narrative synthesis. They included data on 2,621 patients with episodic migraine with and without aura, chronic daily headache, and/or chronic migraine with and without medication overuse. The selected trials investigated the efficacy of different pharmacological prophylaxis, of some surgical approaches, of education programmes and osteopathic manipulative treatment; two studies reported longitudinal observations of patients currently under treatment. Overall, the results of our review showed that headache frequency as well as HRQoL and disability were positively impacted by treatment interventions; positive outcomes were less evident in two studies, and similar results were found in the two observational studies. Our findings confirmed that the most commonly used PROMs, including disease-specific tools to assess disability and HRQoL and SF-36, are sensitive to the beneficial effects occurring over time in functioning and quality of life domains in headache patients. They also suggest that the personal and societal costs of headache disorders are likely to be reduced when headache patients receive appropriate treatments and when continuity of care is offered. In terms of future directions, we note that the systematic use of appropriate PROMs should be encouraged both in the clinical practice and in the research field, as they offer a valid option to assess the global effect of treatments on patient-perceived sense of well-being and quality of performance.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2013; 34 Suppl 1:1-5. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychiatric disorders in migraine patients have a higher prevalence than general population. The presence of psychiatric comorbidities may influence the complexity of the migraine pictures and be related to medication overuse. Severely impaired chronic migraineurs presenting with medication overuse are a challenge for headache clinics. Psychiatric comorbities, such as dependency-like behaviors, anxiety and mood symptoms, might account for headache-related disability and recurrent relapses into medication overuse after a successful detoxification. Within a sample of 63 chronic migraineurs with medication overuse and severe disability, we investigated to which extent clinical severity, affective states and attitudes about medication impact the overall functioning at time of detoxification. To unravel whether some of these factors could predict their long-term outcome, we followed and retest them 1 year after withdrawal. We hypothesized that the detoxification would have led to a partial improvement and not modified the attitudes toward medication and dependence. Detoxification improves most of the clinical and affective measures, but does not free from significant levels of pain intensity and headache-related disability. The partial benefit from detoxification, the severity bias and the maladaptive cognitive profile led us to believe that subgroups of chronic-relapsing migraineurs deserve a multidisciplinary approach that addresses not only the reduction of clinical severity but also specific cognitive and behavioral impairments.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2013; 34 Suppl 1:61-6. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This paper aims to evaluate changes in disease severity, disability and mood state in patients with chronic migraine associated to medication overuse (CM-MO). MIDAS was used for assessing disease activity, WHO-DAS-2 for disability, DBI-2 for mood state. ANOVA was used to test change over time; t-test to assess follow-up differences in WHO-DAS-2 and BDI-2 between patients with MIDAS ≤20 and ≥21. Change in MIDAS, WHO-DAS-2 and BDI-2 scores were computed: Pearson's index was used to assess correlation between them; linear regression to assess change in WHO-DAS-2, using MIDAS and BDI-2 change as predictors. Mean MIDAS decreased significantly (from 101.9 to 52.0). In 26.1 % of the sample, MIDAS fell below 21 at follow-up: these patients had lower WHO-DAS-2 score. WHO-DAS-2 change was little correlated to MIDAS change and strongly correlated to changes in BDI-2 scores. 57.1 % of WHO-DAS-2 change variance is explained by change in BDI-2 and MIDAS scores. There was a clear clinical improvement 14 months after detoxification, and a modest reduction in disability which is explained by reduced disease activity and improved mood state. An appropriate treatment of CM-MO, based on detoxification and prophylaxis, is likely to reduce disease burden: recognition and treatment of mood problems may be a key factor to reduce disability.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2013; 34 Suppl 1:139-40. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with chronic headache and medication overuse are particularly difficult to treat, with no one approach being universally accepted. Some type of withdrawal program, however, is typically implemented before beginning a pharmacological prophylaxis treatment. Different withdrawal modalities have been performed for managing these patients: at first step, in-patient withdrawal has been confirmed effective in preceding clinical experiences. In recent years, new modalities for withdrawal have been developed as day-hospital setting. Purpose of this study was to determine the clinical course of a sample of chronic migraine patients with medication overuse 3 years after day-hospital withdrawal. A group of 202 patients were treated. Patients were suffering from chronic migraine with medication overuse according with IHS criteria. All patients were submitted to a day-hospital withdrawal and then they were followed with meetings every 3 months until the first year and then every 6 months until the last follow-up 3 years after withdrawal. Eighty patients achieved the last follow-up meeting 3 years after withdrawal. Patients clinically improved, significantly, both for days of headache per month and consumption of medications per month. From these results, the day-hospital setting for withdrawal, followed by periodic clinical meetings, seems to be effective for this category of patients to improve significantly at long-term headache frequency and analgesics intake.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2013; 34 Suppl 1:167-9. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) dysfunction and poor decision making have been described in patients with chronic migraine and medication overuse. These neurobiological underpinnings might explain dependency-like behaviors often described in this condition, such as loss of control over painkillers, high rates of relapse after detoxification, and compromised social functioning. We investigate whether the OFC impairment was a persistent trait in migraine, independent of clinical and affective features, a dynamic result of the need to cope with the increased pain and disability, or a temporary consequence of medication overuse. METHODS: For this purpose, we compared 40 chronic migraineurs with medication overuse, 40 episodic migraineurs, and 40 matched healthy controls. The examination consisted of a clinical interview, Anxiety and Depression Hamilton Scales, Severity of Dependence Scale, and Migraine Disability Assessment questionnaire. A neuropsychological assessment of orbitofrontal function was made through the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Chronic migraineurs with medication overuse were followed for a year after detoxification. RESULTS: We found an impaired decision-making performance among chronic and episodic migraineurs that seems independent of the patients' clinical and affective status. Contrary to the psychiatric and clinical improvement shown 1 year after the detox, CM patients exhibited a persistent IGT deficit. No significant differences in OFC functioning were found between the CM patients who relapsed into medication overuse after detox and those who did not. CONCLUSIONS: The present findings suggest the presence of a persistent OFC dysfunction in migraine as a psychobiologic trait that is not influenced by the presence of medication overuse, the clinical severity of the disease, or the patient's affective status. Further studies are needed to elucidate the etiopathological role of OFC in migraine and medication overuse.
    Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain 11/2012; · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    Claudio Irace, Susanna Usai
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    ABSTRACT: The recent article published in the Journal by Lindley and colleagues (Patient Saf. Surg. 2011, 5:33) reported the successful surgical treatment of a persistent thoracic pain following a T7-8 microdiscectomy, truly performed at the 'level immediately above'. The wrong level in spine surgery is a multi-factorial matter and several strategies have been designed and adopted to try decreasing its occurrence. We think that three of these factors are crucial: global strategy, attention, precision in level identification; and the actors we identified are the surgeon, the assistant nurse and the (neuro)radiologist respectively. Basing upon our experience, the role of the radiologist pre- and intraoperatively and the importance of the assistant nurse are briefly described.
    Patient Safety in Surgery 06/2012; 6(1):14.
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    ABSTRACT: Hyperprolactinemia is a condition characterised by an increase of prolactin blood levels (more than 100-200 ng/ml). It is the most common endocrine disorder of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. The clinical characteristics of the headache-hyperprolactinemia-hypophyseal-adenoma association are discussed, the various diagnostic and treatment possibilities are explored and the etiology of the headache is considered in the light of several pathogenetic possibilities. We present two cases. (1) A 35-year-old woman suffering from chronic tension-type headache interspersed with occasional episodes of migraine without aura (as defined by the International Headache Society criteria). She had also suffered menstrual cycle alterations since the age of 16. At the age of 30 she developed amenorrhea with hyperprolactinemia. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans revealed a median-left intrasellar mass. Treatment with cabergoline resulted in complete resolution of both types of headache and the menstrual cycle and prolactin levels returned to normal. The therapy also reduced the volume of the tumour. (2) The second case relates to a 47-year-old man who had been suffering from tension-type headaches for almost 3 months. The patient had never previously suffered from headaches. CT and MRI scans showed a large sellar and suprasellar lesion with raised serum prolactin levels. Treatment with cabergoline had significantly reduced the prolactin levels and had also improved the patient's headaches. High-resolution CT, with and without contrast, or MRI is necessary to visualise microprolactinomas (and other sellar lesions) and confirm the diagnosis.
    Current Pain and Headache Reports 05/2012; 16(4):365-70. · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with chronic migraine developing medication-overuse headache (MOH) show dependency-like behaviors such as loss of control over analgesics despite adverse consequences on headaches, high rates of relapse after withdrawal from symptomatic medications, and compromised social functioning. Neuroimaging research suggests a common pathophysiology between substance-use disorders and MOH, which involves functional alterations in fronto-striatal networks, particularly in the orbitofrontal region of prefrontal cortex. These findings could explain the impaired decision-making observed in substance-use disorders. We hypothesize that MOH could share fronto-striatal circuit dysfunction and relative decision-making deficit with addiction. We further examine whether this deficit is a persistent cognitive trait or a reversible consequence of medication overuse. This study shows a dataset of 50 patients with MOH before the detoxification. All patients underwent a complete neurological and psychiatric examination. Psychiatric examination consisted of a clinical interview, Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV TR Axis II Personality Disorders, Anxiety and Depression Hamilton Scales, Severity of Dependence Scale. The neurological examination included the migraine disability assessment questionnaire. Neuropsychological assessment of fronto-striatal circuits was investigated using the Iowa gambling task (IGT). Twenty patients monitored for any relapse into medication overuse had 12 months of follow-up. Our sample, characterized by high rates of disability and dependency-like behaviors, exhibited a deficit in IGT performance, indicating an overall impairment in decision-making. All the 20 patients showed neurological and psychiatric improvement at 12-month follow-up, notwithstanding the overuse relapse, but a persistent IGT deficit was found. To our knowledge this is the first study that assesses this cognitive function in patients with MOH. Medication-overuse headache seems to share a persistent decision-making deficit with substance abuse that confirms the orbitofrontal cortex hypometabolism described in literature from a neuropsychological perspective. Looking at these shared neurocognitive features, our results suggest that MOH could belong to the addiction spectrum. Fronto-striatal dysfunction could be a premorbid psychobiological condition of vulnerability explaining the clinical onset of medication overuse and recurrent relapses. We propose that IGT could be used to identify chronic migraine patients with higher risk for medication overuse and relapse.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2012; 33 Suppl 1:S151-5. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study aims to compare disability and mood state in patients with episodic (EM) and chronic migraine associated to medication overuse (CM-MO), and to assess the relationships between the two outcomes. Patients, matched for age and gender, were administered the MIDAS, the WHO-DAS-2 and BDI-2. Difference between EM and CM-MO was assessed with the Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test; difference in distribution of patients with severe disability and low mood was tested with contingency coefficient; the correlation between MIDAS, WHO-DAS-2 and BDI-2 was tested with Spearman's index. Seventy patients were enrolled: CM-MO patients reported higher BDI-2 scores and higher MIDAS and WHO-DAS-2 scores, and were more likely to have severe disability and low mood state than those with EM; BDI-2 scores were correlated with disability scores, particularly with WHO-DAS-2. The study shows that disability and mood state are negatively impacted by the presence of more frequent headaches and by the overuse of acute medications.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2012; 33 Suppl 1:S169-71. · 1.41 Impact Factor
  • Licia Grazzi, Susanna Usai
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    ABSTRACT: Migraine and tension-type headache are common problems in children and adolescents. If we consider the possible differential diagnosis in the case of headache in children, we cannot exclude a symptomatic origin of the problem and in this case Chiari malformation can be the reason for an unrevealed organic cause of headache itself. Proper diagnosis and management of headache in young age depends on taking through history and comprehensive clinical examination. The clinical screening includes a complete neurological, mental status and physical examination and in some cases neuroimaging help is needed. Important suggestions in case of children with headache are: reassure the family about the benignity of the condition (by excluding organic diseases); educate the patients and their parents about the pathogenesis and natural history of headache; establish realistic goals for treatment according to age.
    Neurological Sciences 08/2011; 32 Suppl 3:S299-301. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The primary aim was to investigate functional differences between medication overuse headache (MOH) patients and controls with the purpose of evaluating the presence of a global alteration in the processing of noxious stimuli throughout the pain matrix. The secondary aim was to investigate whether activations in MOH patients normalize after medication withdrawal, which would suggest a possible role of the pain matrix in headache chronification. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed during painful mechanical stimulation in nine female patients with MOH immediately and at 6 months after beginning medication withdrawal, and in nine control participants. Compared with controls, immediately after beginning withdrawal, the MOH patients showed reduced pain-related activity across the primary somatosensory cortex, inferior parietal lobule, and supramarginal gyrus, as well as in regions of the lateral pathway of the pain matrix. At 6 months, these differences were no longer detectable. Our findings suggest that significant functional changes occur in the lateral pain pathway in MOH patients. These could result from different processes: 1) cortical down-regulation aimed at reducing painful input to the cortex; 2) activity-dependent plasticity induced by excessive painful input during migraine attacks; and 3) direct effect of medication overuse. At 6 months after withdrawal, activity in these regions normalized, suggesting that no irreversible changes occur due to medication overuse.
    Pain Medicine 07/2011; 13(2):255-62. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Headache is a common symptom in children and adolescence. In this retrospective analysis, we interviewed a population of young patients who were arrived to our observation 10 years before, in order to: (1) determine if the first diagnosis was still adequate and (2) which percentage of these young patients developed chronic forms (more than 15 days/month) from episodic forms. One hundred and seventy-seven patients suffering from different forms of headache were contacted and interviewed. The original diagnosis was confirmed in all the population of patients and the percentage of chronic forms developed from episodic forms was not significant. From this retrospective study, it does not seem the evolution of episodic forms in young age is necessarily a chronic form in adult as this depends from other behavioural or biological or environmental factors.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2011; 32 Suppl 1:S193-5. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    Susanna Usai, Licia Grazzi, Gennaro Bussone
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    ABSTRACT: Primary headaches, migraine and tension-type headaches are some of the most frequent conditions in young age. Even before pharmacological treatment, it is mainly useful in these patients to adopt an appropriate lifestyle, with regular sleep, meals, computer and TV, sport, and avoiding triggers. Any specific and effective pharmacological treatment for migraine and tension-type headache is never lacking in side effects. Gingkolide B, an herbal constituent extract from Ginko biloba tree leaves, is a natural anti platelet activating factor (PAF). PAF is a potent pro inflammatory and nociceptive agent released during the inflammation process. Therefore, Gingkolide B can be considered a promising non pharmacological tool for treatment of migraine with and without aura. In an earlier clinical report, we described our initial attempts to assess the clinical utility of Gingkolide B in a small group of young migraine patients. A small sample of 30 young patients suffering from migraine without aura entered the open-label prospective trial. Migraine without aura was diagnosed according to International Headache Society (IHS) criteria. The treatment was well tolerated and the compliance was good. Despite the uncontrolled open-label design of this study and the small sample of patients, these data show that Gingkolide B seems to be effective as preventive treatment in reducing migraine attack frequency and in attenuating the use of symptomatic medication in our small series of children with primary headache.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2011; 32 Suppl 1:S197-9. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Based on recent data about the association between restless legs syndrome (RLS) and migraine, we performed an observational study on the occurrence of RLS in patients affected by "pure" migraine with aura (pMA). We recruited 63 patients (33 females and 30 males) affected by MA without other types of primary headache among all patients referred in five Italian headache centers in a 1-year period. The prevalence of RLS in pMA patients (9.5%) is similar to that observed in Italian headache-free subjects (8.3%). No significant differences were found between pMA patients with and without RLS about clinical features of MA attacks and systemic and psychiatric diseases were investigated. Moreover, no association appeared between RLS and familial cases of MA. Differently from migraine without aura, our data do not confirm the existence of an association between RLS and MA, not even when a genetic factor is involved.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2011; 32 Suppl 1:S153-6. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aim of this literature review is to summarize the most relevant research findings on disability in subjects with chronic daily headache (CDH) and chronic migraine (CM) measured with the MIDAS and the HIT-6, and to address issues for further research in the field. Research strategy aimed to find papers published after 2001 that focused on disability in patients with CDH, CM and transformed migraine. Both, general population surveys or clinical series were included if they reported total scores, or distribution of the different disability levels, derived from the MIDAS and/or from the HIT-6. Fifteen papers were selected. Studies demonstrated that these subjects report a remarkable impact on functioning, with high disability scores, and reduced ability in work and non-work activities. Modern definitions of disability conceptualize it as the result of the interaction between a health condition and environmental factors. Research strategies should therefore recognize that disability may represent a global evaluation which should be added to more specific endpoints, using instruments that measure disability in a multi-dimensional way, such as the WHO-DAS II.
    Neurological Sciences 05/2011; 32 Suppl 1:S71-6. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is a well-known association between migraine with aura (MA) and right-to-left shunt (RILES) because of patent foramen ovale (PFO). The occurrence of MA attacks after microbubble (MB) injection during contrast-enhanced transcranial Doppler (ce-TCD) has been recently described. The aim of this study was to analyze the prevalence of RILES in a consecutive cohort of MA patients and to characterize the occurrence of MA attacks after diagnostic ce-TCD. A total of 159 consecutive MA patients underwent ce-TCD with air-mixed saline to disclose RILES. RILES was characterized in terms of MB amount (small-moderate or large) and occurrence at rest and/or during Valsalva maneuver (permanent or latent). RILES was revealed in 79/159 patients (∼ 50%). Permanent RILES were detected in 56/79 (71%) and latent RILES in 23/79 (29%) MA patients. The occurrence of a typical MA attack was overall observed in 12/159 patients (7.5%; 95% CI: 4-12.8%), but arose only in RILES-positive ones, immediately after ce-TCD (12/79; 15.2%; P< .001). All 12 patients had permanent RILES (12/56; 21.4%; P= .015) and MA attack was mostly observed in large RILES-positive patients, even without statistical significance (P= .118). Microembolic air load could act as a trigger of MA attack. According to recent studies and to the clinical characteristics observed in our patients, microembolization because of MB injection might provoke a decrease in cerebral oxygen saturation, thus triggering cortical spreading depression and, thereafter, MA attack. Larger and prospective studies will be necessary to confirm our data and observe a wider correlation.
    Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain 09/2010; 50(8):1320-7. · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic migraine with symptomatic medication overuse (CMwMO) is a common and often debilitating clinical condition. Withdrawal of the offending drug(s) is considered the first step in management. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may be a useful technique for obtaining information on particular neuronal changes in the pain network involved in this condition. To identify specific fMRI patterns in patients suffering from CMwMO before and after withdrawal intervention. We collected fMRI data from a group of patients suffering from CMwMO, evaluating those patients prior to and 6 months following withdrawal. We applied stimuli at sites far removed from where the headaches were experienced. Moreover, pre-intervention fMRI data from the headache patients were compared with those obtained from headache-free and otherwise healthy controls. Before withdrawal, the right supramarginal gyrus, the right inferior and superior parietal cortex were hypoactive. Activity recovered to almost normal 6 months after withdrawal of the offending medications. The hypoactivation we detected in the lateral pain system indicate that there exists a modification of the pain network in CMwMO and that these changes are reversible with therapy.
    Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain 06/2010; 50(6):998-1004. · 2.94 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

832 Citations
170.62 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • University of Milan
      • Department of Health Science - DISS
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2004–2013
    • Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta
      • • Department of Neurology, Public Health and Disability
      • • Department of Clinical Neurosciences
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2000–2013
    • Foundation of the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2012
    • Azienda Ospedaliera San Paolo - Polo Universitario
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2003–2010
    • University of West Florida
      • Department of Psychology
      Pensacola, Florida, United States
  • 2008
    • Azienda Ospedaliera della Provincia di Lecco
      Lecco, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2001
    • Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro
      Bari, Apulia, Italy