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Relationship between non-headache symptoms and right to left shunt in episodic migraine. A single-center cross-sectional study

Highlights•Right to left shunt (RLS) is involved in the pathogenesis of migraine and maybe a link between migraine and stroke.•Whether there are other clinical features besides aura related to RLS in migraine deserve investigation.•We assessed the association between RLS and non-headache symptoms (NHS) in episodic migraineurs.•Mid-large RLS and some NHS were independently associated.•Particular NHS may serve as indicators for screening RLS in migraine patients.AbstractThe relationship between right to left shunt (RLS) and non-headache symptoms (NHS) in episodic migraine is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the incidence and classification of RLS in episodic migraineurs, calculate the occurrence rate of NHS, and analyze the associations between RLS and NHS. We consecutively recruited 204 episodic migraine patients. Contrast-enhanced transcranial doppler was adopted to screen RLS. Structured questionnaire via face-to-face survey was conducted to collect clinical data. A total of 172 episodic migraineurs were included in the final analysis, of which 20 cases were migraine with aura. The positive rate of RLS was 47.1%, of which 50 cases (29.0%) had small shunt (Grade 1) and 31 cases (18.1%) had mid-large shunt (Grade 2–4). The most common NHS was nausea (115 (66.9%)), followed by headache aggravation with physical activity (96 (55.8%)), dizziness (93 (54.1%)), vomiting (77 (44.8%)) and phonophobia (74 (43.0%)). Yawning was more common in Grade 2–4 group than Grade 0 group (p = 0.012), while no statistical differences among other groups. Grade 2–4 group had a higher rate of headache aggravation with physical activity than grade 0 group (p = 0.008). Binary logistic regression analysis showed that yawning at premonitory phase, headache aggravation with physical activity and cranial autonomic symptoms during attack are independent predictors of RLS. In conclusion, yawning and headache aggravation with physical activity are more common in migraine patients with RLS. Besides aura, particular NHS may also serve as indicators for screening RLS in episodic migraineurs.

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