A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial of 109 adults (aged 18-70 years) with cluster headache as defined by the International Headache Society. Patients treated 4 headache episodes with high-flow inhaled oxygen or placebo, alternately. Patients were randomized to the order in which they received the active treatment or placebo. Patients were recruited and followed up between 2002 and 2007 at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, England.
Cluster Headache is a stereo typical primary headache syndrome characterized by attacks of unilateral excruciating pain usually in the eye, periorbital region, and temple with associated cranial autonomic symptoms such as conjunctival injection, lacrimation, nasal blockage, rhinorrhea, ptosis, and eyelid edema. During attacks patients are often restless, agitated, or both. Attacks typically last for 15 to 180 minutes untreated and have a frequency of 1 every other day for up to 8 attacks a day.
Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, including cluster headache, are characterized by unilateral head pain in association with ipsilateral cranial autonomic features. They are believed to involve activation of the trigeminovascular system and the parasympathetic outflow to the cranial vasculature from the superior salivatory nucleus (SuS) projections through the sphenopalatine ganglion, via the greater petrosal nerve of the VIIth (facial) cranial nerve. Cluster headache is remarkably responsive to treatment with oxygen, and yet our understanding of its mode of action is unknown.