Gastric Stasis Linked to Migraine

Teri Robert, Lead Expert

Nausea is often a symptom of a Migraine attack. Some have theorized over the years that the nausea might be caused by gastric stasis, delayed emptying of the stomach. There have also been questions about how gastric stasis might affect treating Migraine attacks because it can slow the disintegration and absorption of medications in the stomach.

The results of studies have shed some light on gastric stasis as it relates to Migraine disease.

In a continuing medical education module, "Targeting Multiple Mechanisms in Migraine: New Advances in Acute Care," the principle investigator in this study, Dr. Sheena K. Aurora, asks "Why Should Clinicians Who Treat Migraineurs Care About Gastric Stasis?" Her answer is:

"The emphasis is that although we have known for a long time that perhaps gastric stasis occurs in migraine, this has not been very well quantified. With all the oral treatment that is available... there is a lot of dissatisfaction out there with oral treatment. Perhaps it is the reason that drugs may not be getting absorbed as well in migraine. So it really behooves us to study the GI system in migraine to elucidate those results."

2006 Study Methods:
Ten Migraineurs were compared to 10 people without Migraine, matched by age and gender. After a standard meal, gastric scintigraphy was performed, both during a Migraine and between Migraine attacks. To facilitate the study, the Migraine attacks studied were induced by medication.

2006 Study Results:

  • Among the Migraineurs, the time to the stomach emptying by half was delayed by 78% during a Migraine attack.
  • Among the Migraineurs, the time to the stomach emptying by half was delayed by 80% not during a Migraine attack.
  • The time to emptying by half among Migraineurs was significantly longer among the Migraineurs, 188.8 minutes, than the control subjects. 111.8 minutes.

2006 Study Conclusions:

Dr. Aurora and her colleagues concluded that, "nausea is caused by a central process as a part of changes occurring in the brainstem as a part of the acute migraine rather than due to gastric stasis, as the stasis is present even outside an attack and none of these patients were nauseous outside an attack."

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