Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome in Children

  • Anne Donnet
  • Sylvain Redon
Childhood and Adolescent Headache (S Evers, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Childhood and Adolescent Headache


Purpose of Review

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a misrecognized and probably underdiagnosed episodic syndrome associated with migraine, occurring preferentially in childhood. Attacks are stereotyped for each individual, with predictable periodicity. This review summarizes recent clinical and paraclinical observations in this syndrome, and current approaches in explorations and therapeutics.

Recent Findings

Clinical phenotype during prodromal, vomiting, and recovery phases contains visceral and neuropsychological symptoms, but also cranial and systemic symptoms. Some clinical arguments as circadian or circannual periodicity suggest a chronobiological disease. Red flags in clinical presentation are proposed to distinguish other etiologies of recurrent gastrointestinal disturbances and guide paraclinical explorations. Functional magnetic resonance imaging in both CVS and migraine displayed diminished insular connectivity with the sensorimotor network, suggesting a common pathophysiology.


Pathophysiology of CVS is not well defined, and there is probably a multifactorial origin. Distinction with other differential diagnoses is a challenge for clinicians. Further research, in particular with functional imaging, are required to define pathophysiology of CVS. Control trials are missing in pediatric population. Injectable or intranasal sumatriptan are often effective. For prophylaxis, amitriptyline, cyproheptadine, or propranolol are the most common treatments, depending on age and comorbidities. Non-pharmacologic measures as lifestyle modification also seem to be effective as preventive treatment.


Cyclic vomiting syndrome Migraine Children 


Compliance with Ethics Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Donnet is a consultant for Allergan, Almirall SAS, Astellas, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Grunenthal, Lilly, MSD, Novartis, Orkyn, Pfizer, Saint-Jude, Sanofi-Aventis, Teva, and Zambon. Dr. Redon declares no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance, •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evaluation and Treatment of Pain, Clinical Neuroscience FederationLa Timone Hospital, FHU INOVPAINMarseilleFrance

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