Skip to main content


Cluster headache and SUNCT: similarities and differences


SUNCT is probably a distinct syndrome, although it shares some common features with cluster headache (CH): male sex preponderance, clustering of attacks, unilaterality of headache without sideshift, pain of non-pulsating type with its maximum in the periocular area, ipsilateral autonomic phenomena (e.g. conjunctival injection, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, increased forehead sweating), systemic blood pressure increment with heart rate decrement, blood flow velocity decrement in the middle cerebral artery, and hyperventilation. In spite of these similarities, SUNCT syndrome differs clearly from CH as regards a number of clinical variables, such as duration, intensity, frequency, and nocturnal preponderance of attacks. The two syndromes also differ markedly as regards precipitation of attacks, the usual age at onset, and efficacy of various treatment alternatives. Laboratory investigations have disclosed differences as regards presence or absence of Horner-like picture and possibily also the respiratory sinus arrhythmia pattern. All in all, these differences seem sufficiently ponderous to make it likely that SUNCT syndrome and CH differ essentially. SUNCT seems to be a “neuralgiform” headache, but different from trigeminal neuralgia.

Author information

Additional information

Received: 2 April 2001 / Accepted: 23 July 2001

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kruszewski, P., Pareja, J., Caminero, A. et al. Cluster headache and SUNCT: similarities and differences. J Headache Pain 2, 57–66 (2001).

Download citation

  • Key words Cluster headache
  • SUNCT syndrome
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Horner's syndrome
  • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate. Please note that comments may be removed without notice if they are flagged by another user or do not comply with our community guidelines.