Thunderclap Headache in Children and Adolescents

Yoel Levinsky, Tal Eidlitz-Markus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: This work aimed to review the epidemiology, clinical criteria, and primary and secondary diagnoses of pediatric thunderclap headache and to compare to adult thunderclap headache. Recent Findings: Thunderclap headache among children aged 6–18 years are rare; this headache presented in 0.08% of the patients admitted to a pediatric emergency department in a tertiary pediatric center. In that recent single-center study, thunderclap was a headache of grade 10 on the pain scale and conferred a benign course. Contrary to adults, in children, most thunderclap headaches are due to either a primary thunderclap headache or another type of primary headache. A number of case reports have attributed pediatric thunderclap to reversible vasoconstriction syndrome and bleeding due to intracranial aneurysm. However, 3-year data from a pediatric emergency department of one center did not find these reasons to be causes of secondary thunderclap headache. This may be due to the rarity of these diagnoses in children compared to adults. Four of the 19 patients with thunderclap headache reported in that single study had secondary thunderclap; the causes were infection in three and malignant hypertension in one. All the patients had a benign course. Summary: Although urgent imaging and lumbar puncture are required in the workup of pediatric thunderclap, severe causes are very rare. More research is needed to investigate pediatric thunderclap headache.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-239
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Pain and Headache Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Adolescents
  • Benign course
  • Children
  • Pain scale
  • Thunderclap


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