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Beyond Spinal Headache: Prophylaxis and Treatment of Low-Pressure Headache Syndromes
  1. Wendy I. Warwick, M.D. and
  2. Joseph M. Neal, M.D.
  1. Department of Anesthesiology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA.


Objective: This Evidence-Based Case Management article evaluates and grades the evidence for two anesthesiology-related interventions: prophylaxis after unintentional meningeal puncture and treatment of spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH).

Methods: A search was made of relevant English language clinical studies or reports pertinent to the topic of low-pressure headache, but excluding the treatment of meningeal puncture headache.

Results: Thirty-seven case reports, case series, and clinical trials were included to develop the best available evidence-based recommendations for the prophylaxis of unintentional meningeal puncture and for the treatment of SIH.

Conclusion: The highest quality randomized controlled trials suggest that prophylactic epidural blood patch (EBP) does not reduce the incidence of headache after unintentional meningeal puncture. The weight of existing literature supports EBP as an initial treatment of SIH, although its effectiveness does not approach that seen when EBP is used to treat meningeal puncture headache.

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  • James P. Rathmell, M.D. acted as Editor-in-Chief for this manuscript.

    Reprints are not available.