Oxygen conclusively shown to treat acute cluster headaches

January 01, 0001

Oxygen conclusively shown to treat acute cluster headaches

Cluster headache is debilitatingly painful headache syndrome characterized by unilateral pain and autonomic symptoms. Early, small trials suggested oxygen therapy may be helpful. To examine this more robustly, these UK researcher tested whether high-flow oxygen therapy was superior to placebo for acute cluster headache using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial involving adults (aged 18-70 years) with cluster headaches. Patients treated 4 headache episodes with high-flow inhaled oxygen or placebo in a randomized order. The primary endpoint was to have the patient pain free at 15 minutes.

They found: “Fifty-seven patients with episodic cluster headache and 19 with chronic cluster headache were available for the analysis. For the primary end point the difference between oxygen, 78% and air, 20% was significant. There were no important adverse events.”

The authors concluded: “Treatment of patients with cluster headache at symptom onset using inhaled high-flow oxygen compared with placebo was more likely to result in being pain-free at 15 minutes.”

This study clearly confirms the efficacy of oxygen therapy in the treatment of acute cluster headache.

For the full abstract, click here.

JAMA 302(22):2451-2457, 9 December 2009. © 2009 to the Ameridan Medical Association
High-Flow Oxygen for Treatment of Cluster Headache, A Randomized Trial. Anna S. Cohen, Brian Burns, Peter J. Goadsby.

Category: N. Neurological. Keywords: cluster headache, treatment, high-flow oxygen, acute phase, placebo, randomized controlled trial
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 21 January 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.