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Open Access Case report

Cerebral neurocysticercosis mimicking or comorbid with episodic migraine?

Yannick Fogoum Fogang*, Massaman Camara, Amadou Gallo Diop and Mansour Mouhamadou Ndiaye

Author Affiliations

Neurology Department, Fann Teaching Hospital, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal

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BMC Neurology 2014, 14:138  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-138

Published: 1 July 2014



Neurocysticercosis is a major cause of neurological symptoms in developing countries. We report a case of cerebral neurocysticercosis presenting as episodic migraine without aura, with clinico-radiological correlations and discuss the possible causal influence of neurocysticercosis on the pathomechanisms of migraine.

Case presentation

We report a 24 year-old male consulting for a one year history of recurrent headaches. He described bilateral frontal and/or temporal attacks of throbbing headache, moderate to severe in intensity, worsened by head movements and accompanied by nausea, photophobia and phonophobia. Attacks lasted between 12 and 60 hours if untreated. He never had symptoms suggestive of a migraine aura or an epileptic seizure. Headache attacks progressively increased in frequency to up to 5 to 7 severe attacks per month. On taking history, the patient reported having consumed undercooked porcine meat. Physical examination was unremarkable. A brain CT scan showed two contiguous occipital cystic lesions with ring enhancement and surrounding edema suggestive of cerebral neurocysticercosis. On laboratory work-up, blood serology for cysticercal antibodies was positive. Full blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, c - reactive protein level, human immunodeficiency virus serology, liver and hepatic function were all normal. Albendazole (1000 mg/day) and prednisolone (60 mg/day) were prescribed for seven days. The patient was examined again two and six months after the end of his treatment and there was a significant reduction in headache severity and frequency.


We propose that in our patient the occipital neurocysticercosis lesions cause migraine without aura-like attacks via inflammation in the surrounding brain parenchyma leading to sensitization of the trigemino-vascular system. We cannot rule out, however, the possibility that our patient has a genetic predisposition for migraine without aura and that the fortuitous association of neurocysticercosis is simply an aggravating factor of his migraine.

Neurocysticercosis; Migraine; Headache; Neuroinflammation