Original Contributions| Volume 54, ISSUE 5, P600-606, May 2018

Low-Dose Propofol for Pediatric Migraine: A Prospective, Randomized Controlled Trial

Published:February 15, 2018DOI:



      Migraine headaches are a common reason for pediatric emergency department (ED) visits. Small studies suggest the potential efficacy of sub-anesthetic doses of propofol for migraine with a favorable side effect profile and potentially decreased length of stay (LOS).


      The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy of low-dose propofol (LDP) to standard therapy (ST) in pediatric migraine treatment.


      We conducted a prospective, pragmatic randomized controlled trial from April 2014 through June 2016 in the ED at two pediatric hospitals. Patients aged 7–19 years were eligible if they were diagnosed with migraine by the emergency physician and had a presenting visual analog pain score (VAS) of 6–10. Primary outcome was the percent of pain reduction. Secondary outcomes were ED LOS, 24-h rebound headache, return visits to the ED, and adverse reactions.


      Seventy-four patients were enrolled, but 8 were excluded, leaving 66 patients in the final analysis (36 ST, 30 LDP). Pain reduction was 59% for ST and 51% for LDP (p = 0.34) with 72.2% vs. 73.3% achieving a VAS ≤ 4 with initial therapy (p = 0.92). There was a nonsignificant trend toward shorter median LOS from drug administration to final disposition favoring propofol (79 min vs. 111 min; p = 0.09). Rebound headache was significantly more common in the ST vs. LDP group (66.7% vs. 25.0%; p = 0.01).


      LDP did not achieve better pain reduction than ST, however, LDP was associated with significantly fewer rebound headaches and a nonsignificant trend toward shorter median LOS from drug administration to disposition.


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