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April 1938

MECHANISM OF MIGRAINE HEADACHE AND ACTION OF ERGOTAMINE TARTRATE

Author Affiliations

NEW YORK

From the New York Hospital, Department of Medicine, and Cornell University Medical College.

Arch NeurPsych. 1938;39(4):737-763. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1938.02270040093005
Abstract

The observation that administration of ergotamine tartrate regularly and promptly ends the migraine headache introduced a new approach to the experimental study of this syndrome (Tzanck,1 Lennox and von Storch,2 O'Sullivan3). With this effective tool the attack can be sufficiently shortened to permit convenient analysis of certain changes that take place in the transition from the peak to the termination of the headache. Because ergotamine tartrate predominantly affects smooth muscle, inquiry concerning its action during migraine headache was centered on the cranial blood vessels. The experiments described here were performed when the phenomena which characterize the onset of an attack, namely, scotomas, blurring of vision, paresthesias and aphasia, had already passed and had been supplanted by headache. Hence these results have no bearing on preheadache phenomena. They concern only the origin of migraine pain.

MATERIAL  Experimental analyses were made during thirty-two attacks of migraine occurring in sixteen

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