Stroke-like migraine attacks after radiation therapy: A misnomer?

Emily Peien Fan, Gabriel Heiber, Elizabeth E. Gerard, Stephan Schuele*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand the frequency of electrographic and clinical seizures in patients with stroke-like migraine attacks after radiation therapy (SMART), and determine whether SMART warrants comprehensive electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring and aggressive seizure management. Methods: We searched our magnetic resonance brain imaging report database for all patients between January 2013 and December 2015 for suspected SMART syndrome. Clinical inclusion criteria were further applied as follows: inpatient adults (>18 years of age) with history of cranial radiation presenting with acute neurologic deficits as primary admission reason who lacked evidence of recurrent or new brain malignancy, stroke, or infectious agents in cerebrospinal fluid. Six patients were identified. All 6 patients underwent prolonged video EEG monitoring as part of our standard protocol. Results: All patients but 1 were found to have multiple or prolonged electrographic seizures consistent with status epilepticus during video EEG monitoring. Their neurological deficit and/or mental status change improved in parallel with resolution of the seizure activity. Significance: SMART is likely a misnomer that underestimates the significance of seizures and status epilepticus in the pathophysiology and clinical presentation of the syndrome. Systematic continuous EEG monitoring and appropriate seizure management is warranted to reduce symptom duration and optimize clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


  • migraine
  • radiation-induced delayed changes
  • stroke-like migraine after radiation therapy
  • stroke-like migraine attacks after radiation therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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