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Basilar migraine

Other Names for this Disease
  • Basilar artery migraine
  • Bickerstaff migraine
  • Brainstem migraine
  • Vertebrobasilar migraine
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Basilar migraine is a type of migraine headache with aura accompanied by neurological symptoms which begin either in the base of the brain (the brainstem) or from both sides of the brain (both cerebral hemispheres) at the same time.[1] The most common symptoms are dizziness and vertigo, but symptoms may also include headache accompanied by ataxia, tinnitus, decreased hearing, nausea and vomiting, dysarthria, diplopia (blurred or double vision), loss of balance, bilateral paresthesias or paresis, altered consciousness, syncope, and, sometimes loss of consciousness.[2] Migraines, in general, are complex genetic disorders involving environmental factors. The nerves are believed to play a role in the cause of basilar migraines.[1] A familial form has been linked to mutations in the ATP1A2 gene.[3] While basilar migraines are more common in adolescent girls and young women, they occur in all age groups.[1][2] Treatment may involve the combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications with and an antiemetic phenothiazine. More recently, triptans, once contraindicated due to their propensity to constrict blood vessels, have been found to relieve these headaches without adverse effects.[1]
Last updated: 7/5/2012


  1. Basilar-Type Migraine. American Headache Society. 2011; Accessed 7/5/2012.
  2. Dafer RM. Migraine Variants: Basilar Migraine. Medscape Reference. March 29, 2012; Accessed 7/5/2012.
  3. Migraine, Familial Hemiplegic, 2. Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM). March 23, 2012; Accessed 7/5/2012.
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Basic Information

  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. Click on the link to view this information. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is an catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Basilar migraine. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.