Intravenous Sodium Valproate for Acute Pediatric Headache

David Sheridan, Benjamin Sun, Patricia O'Brien, Matthew Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background Headaches are common in the pediatric population, and increase in prevalence with age. The abortive medications currently used have a number of potential side effects. Sodium valproate (VPA) has been shown to be effective for acute treatment in the adult population, but no data exist in the pediatric population. Objective The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of VPA for acute pediatric headache in the emergency department. Methods This was a retrospective case series of all patients <19 years of age treated in the pediatric emergency department (PED) at two tertiary care pediatric hospitals and with a final diagnosis of migraine or headache who received parenteral VPA. Data collected included patient demographics, pain reduction, length of stay, and final disposition. Results From July 2010 to February 2014, there were 16 patients who received VPA for acute headache in the PED; 4 were excluded. Eighty-three percent were discharged home. Mean length of stay in the PED before VPA was 395 min, and 120 min after VPA administration. Patients achieved a 17% mean pain score reduction before VPA and approximately an additional 40% mean pain reduction after VPA infusion. Conclusions VPA appears to be an effective agent for acute pediatric headache in this small series. Patients responded well to VPA in a relatively short amount of time. Further studies are needed to evaluate its effectiveness in combination with other first-line medications or as a single agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-545
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2015


  • emergency
  • headache
  • migraine
  • pediatric
  • valproate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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