Monday, January 28, 2008

A “clear cut” definition of a Basilar-Type Migraine

From Ron King's Migraine Mastery:

Basilar Migraine A Basilar-Type Migraine is a Migraine that has aura symptoms originating from the brainstem and/or affecting both hemispheres of the brain at the same time, but with no motor weakness. The aura of BTM usually lasts less than 60 minutes, but in some cases can be more extended. Basilar-Type Migraine presents symptoms that can mimic other, far more serious conditions. It is essential that the diagnosis be definitive and correct. An imaging study such as a CT scan or MRI should be performed to rule out other causes for the symptoms, and an EEG is often performed to rule out seizure disorders. As with other forms of Migraine, BTM can be disabling. Basilar-Type Migraine is one of the most frightening of head pain disorders, but the symptoms are usually more frightening than harmful. [emphasis mine]

I would agree with most of this. However, “clear cut” is a word I am finding seldom applies to Basilar-Type migraines. Doctors are either too fast to diagnose them or diagnose around them. My symptoms dance and jiggle around what Ron writes, however the aura has lasted for hours on end and the cycle continues every day. I do have triggers built right into my body (hormone fluctuations due to the hypoglycemia, the vestibular issues, the neck injury throwing everything off including proper blood flow to the head...damn, sounds like I am ready to lay down and die...) so your milage may vary. As for the symptoms being more frightening than harmful...Ron is both right and wrong. True, by themselves BTMs are not too harmful. There is an elevated risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack or TIA. However, the symptoms can confuse everyone including Emergency personnel. My first bad BTM threw the ER staff for a loop while they ran CAT scans of my brain and ordered up a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) of my spine. The symptoms threw everyone, even migraine experts, on several wild goose chases. Today I do not leave my home without some sort of medical ID information on me. Many emergency personnel are not aware of BTMs. My cousin, a newly graduated fireman and EMT, had not heard of BTMs and was convinced that I had a stroke (it sure seemed that way from appearance). So even listing “Basilar-Type Migraines” on an ID bracelet is often not enough. I carry an ID with a phone number and web-link back to detailed medical information including a description of medical symptoms associated with BTM. Now, if I do get a stroke, my luck, they will not test or treat me because they think it is a BTM...Bobblehead cannot win. Ron has other migraine definitions as well. It is a nicely ordered migraine site. My goal is to present all sorts of medical information, not just migraine info. And, more importantly, I want to link to the human side of the conditions as well. It is one thing to read about symptoms, another to hear true stories. Well, about time for work.

[posted by Bobblehead]


  1. Hi there! Maybe part of your problem with Mr. King's article is that he only copied PART of my original article, which is Basilar-Type Migraine - The Basics.

    He has copied part of all of many of my articles on his "Migraine Mastery" blog.

  2. Thanks, Teri. It does not surprise me that he may have copied your article, and only in part at that. I try to give credit when I link or digest. Appologies for not making the connection to your writing.
    Your book was wonderful, by far the most comprehensive one I have seen.
    I do find it amazing how naive the general medical community seems to be on migraines in particular. BAMs are almost unheard of outside neurologists making my condition even that much harder to present to my doctors.


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