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1.  Migraine disability, healthcare utilization, and expenditures following treatment in a tertiary headache center 
Headache is among the most common disabling pain complaints. While many patients are managed in primary care or referral neurology practices, some patients have refractive situations that necessitate referral to a tertiary headache center. Increasing frequency of headache is strongly associated with increasing disability and workplace absenteeism as well as increased healthcare utilization. Previous studies have demonstrated that headache care in a dedicated tertiary center is associated with a decrease in headache frequency and improvement in other characteristics that persist over extended periods of time. Previous studies have not examined the impact of this treatment on subsequent healthcare utilization and associated expenditures. In this study we examined the changes in healthcare utilization and expenditures as well as the impact on disability and workplace productivity with treatment in a tertiary headache care center that used initial treatment settings of inpatient and outpatient care and considered the difference between those with episodic migraine and those with chronic migraine and its complications. Tertiary care was found to produce positive reductions in disability, healthcare utilization, and expenditures. These results suggest that earlier tertiary-level intervention may avoid the complications of migraine that occur in some patients and the increasing costs and utilization of care associated with higher disability.
PMCID: PMC3777091  PMID: 24082410
2.  The evaluation and management of paediatric headaches 
Paediatrics & Child Health  2009;14(1):24-30.
The management of patients with headaches is a major component of every paediatric practice. In a nationally representative sample of Canadian adolescents, it was found that 26.6% of those 12 to 13 years of age and 31.2% of those 14 to 15 years of age reported that they experienced headaches at least once per week.
The diagnosis of headaches in children and adolescents is established through a headache history in the vast majority of patients. Specific questions can identify those at most risk for headaches secondary to underlying pathology. Similarly, the examination should be tailored to identify those who require further investigation. Investigations are not routinely indicated for paediatric headache, but neuroimaging should be considered in children whose headaches do not meet the criteria for one of the primary headache syndromes and in those with an abnormal neurological examination.
The optimal treatment of primary headaches should begin with nonpharmacological methods. Preventive pharmacological therapy should be considered when headaches significantly impair the patient’s quality of life. Flunarizine may be valuable in paediatric headache prevention, and ibuprofen, acetaminophen and nasal sumatriptan may be effective in the acute management of headaches.
PMCID: PMC2661331  PMID: 19436460
Headaches; Ibuprofen; Migraine
3.  Combination of acupuncture and spinal manipulative therapy: management of a 32-year-old patient with chronic tension-type headache and migraine 
Journal of Chiropractic Medicine  2012;11(3):192-201.
Objective
The purpose of this case study is to describe the treatment using acupuncture and spinal manipulation for a patient with a chronic tension-type headache and episodic migraines.
Clinical Features
A 32-year-old woman presented with headaches of 5 months' duration. She had a history of episodic migraine that began in her teens and had been controlled with medication. She had stopped taking the prescription medications because of gastrointestinal symptoms. A neurologist diagnosed her with mixed headaches, some migrainous and some tension type. Her headaches were chronic, were daily, and fit the International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria of a chronic tension-type headache superimposed with migraine.
Intervention and Outcome
After 5 treatments over a 2-week period (the first using acupuncture only, the next 3 using acupuncture and chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy), her headaches resolved. The patient had no recurrences of headaches in her 1-year follow-up.
Conclusion
The combination of acupuncture with chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy was a reasonable alternative in treating this patient's chronic tension-type headaches superimposed with migraine.
doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2012.02.003
PMCID: PMC3437348  PMID: 23449932
Acupuncture; Acupuncture analgesia; Headache disorders; Migraine headaches; Tension-type headaches
4.  Pitfalls in Neuroimaging of Headache: A Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Case Reports in Otolaryngology  2013;2013:735147.
Headache is a common symptom, with a lifetime prevalence of over 90% of the general population in the United Kingdom (UK). It accounts for 4.4% of consultations in primary care and 30% of neurology outpatient consultations. Neuroimaging is indicated in patients with red flag features for secondary headaches. The guidelines recommend CT or MRI scan to identify any intracranial pathology. We present a unique case where the initial noncontrast CT scan failed to identify a potential treatable cause for headache. A middle aged man presented with headache and underwent a CT scan without contrast enhancement. The scan was reported as normal. The headache persisted for years and the patient underwent a staging CT scan to investigate an oropharyngeal cancer. This repeat CT scan utilized contrast enhancement and revealed a meningioma. Along with other symptoms, headache is an established presenting complaint in patients with meningioma. The contrast enhanced CT brain proved superior to a nonenhanced CT scan in identifying the meningioma. In a patient with persistent headache where other causes are excluded and a scan is to be requested, perhaps contrast enhanced CT is a better option than a plain CT scan of brain.
doi:10.1155/2013/735147
PMCID: PMC3600267  PMID: 23533889
5.  Evaluating integrated headache care: a one-year follow-up observational study in patients treated at the Essen headache centre 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:124.
Background
Outpatient integrated headache care was established in 2005 at the Essen Headache Centre in Germany. This paper reports outcome data for this approach.
Methods
Patients were seen by a neurologist for headache diagnosis and recommendation for drug treatment. Depending on clinical needs, patients were seen by a psychologist and/or physical therapist. A 5-day headache-specific multidisciplinary treatment programme (MTP) was provided for patients with frequent or chronic migraine, tension type headache (TTH) and medication overuse headache (MOH). Subsequent outpatient treatment was provided by neurologists in private practice.
Results
Follow-up data on headache frequency and burden of disease were prospectively obtained in 841 patients (mean age 41.5 years) after 3, 6 and 12 months. At baseline mean headache frequency was 18.1 (SD = 1.6) days per month, compared to measurement at 1 year follow-up a mean reduction of 5.8 (SD = 11.9) headache days per month was observed in 486 patients (57.8%) after one year (TTH patients mean: -8.5 days per month; migraine mean: -3.2 days per month, patients with migraine and TTH mean: -5.9 days per month). A reduction in headache days ≥ 50% was observed in 306 patients (36.4%) independent of diagnosis, while headache frequency remains unchanged in 20.9% and increase in 21.3% of the patient.
Conclusion
Multidisciplinary outpatient headache centres offer an effective way to establish a three-tier treatment offer for difficult headache patients depending on clinical needs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-124
PMCID: PMC3203041  PMID: 21985562
6.  Cluster headache associated with acute maxillary sinusitis 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:509.
Background
Cluster headache is a primary headache by definition not caused by any known underlying structural pathology. However, symptomatic cases have been described, for example tumours, particularly pituitary adenomas, malformations, and infections/inflammations. The evaluation of cluster headache is an issue unresolved.
Case description
I present a case of a 24-year-old patient who presented with a 4-week history of side-locked attacks of pain located in the left orbit. He satisfied the revised International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria for cluster headache. His medical and family histories were unremarkable. There was no history of headache. A diagnosis of cluster headache was made. The patient responded to symptomatic treatment. Low-dose computer tomography scan after 2 weeks displayed a left-sided acute maxillary sinusitis. The headache attacks resolved completely after treatment with antibiotics and sinus puncture.
Discussion and evaluation
Although I cannot exclude an unintentional comorbidity, in my opinion, the co-occurrence of an acute maxillary sinusitis with unilateral headache, in a hitherto headache-free man, points toward the fact that in this case the cluster headache was caused or triggered by the sinusitis. The headache attacks resolved completely after the treatment and the patient also remained headache free at the follow-up. The response of the headache to sumatriptan and other typical cluster headache medications does not exclude a secondary form. Symptomatic cluster headaches responsive to this therapy have been described. Associated cranial lesions such as infections have been reported in cluster headache patients and the attacks may be clinically indistinguishable from the primary form.
Conclusions
Neuroimaging, preferably contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging including sinuses should always be considered in patients with cluster headache despite normal neurological examination. Acute maxillary sinusitis can present as cluster headache.
doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-509
PMCID: PMC3795873  PMID: 24133652
Cluster headache; Acute maxillary sinusitis; Secondary; Symptomatic; Infection
7.  The validation of ID migraine™ screener in neurology outpatient clinics in Turkey 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2007;8(4):217-223.
The aim of this study was to investigate the validity of the ID Migraine™ test in neurology outpatient clinics (NOCs), regardless of their presenting complaints. Patients admitted to 41 NOCs were screened. Eligible subjects (n=3682) were evaluated by a neurologist for headache diagnosis according to the International Headache Society criteria and asked the 3-item screening questions of the ID Migraine™ test. Of 3682 patients, 917 (24.9%) were diagnosed as migraine, whereas 1171 (31.8%) were ID Migraine™ test positive. The sensitivity of the ID Migraine™ test for neurologist’s diagnosis of migraine was 91.8%, specificity was 63.4%, positive predictive value was 71.9% and negative predictive value was 88.4%. The ID Migraine™ test is easy to use and a practical test that could alert the neurologist to diagnose patients having other complaints. This test would help to increase the diagnosis and treatment rate of undiagnosed migraine patients in NOCs.
doi:10.1007/s10194-007-0397-4
PMCID: PMC3451667  PMID: 17901923
Diagnosis; ID Migraine™; Migraine; Prevalence
8.  Cluster headache and arachnoid cyst 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:4.
Background
Cluster headache is a primary headache by definition not caused by any known underlying structural pathology. However, symptomatic cases have been described, e.g. tumours, particularly pituitary adenomas, malformations, and infections/inflammations. The evaluation of cluster headache is an issue unresolved.
Case description
We present a case of a 43-year-old patient who presented with a 2-month history of side-locked attacks of pain located in the left orbit. He satisfied the revised International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria for cluster headache. His medical and family histories were unremarkable. There was no history of headache. A diagnosis of cluster headache was made. The patient responded to symptomatic treatment. Computer tomography and enhanced magnetic resonance imaging after 1 month displayed a supra- and intrasellar arachnoid cyst with mass effect on adjacent structures. After operation, the headache attacks resolved completely.
Discussion and evaluation
Although we cannot exclude an unintentional comorbidity, in our opinion, the co-occurrence of an arachnoid cyst with mass effect with unilateral headache, in a hitherto headache-free man, points toward the fact that in this case the CH was caused or triggered by the AC. The headache attacks resolved completely after the operation and the patient also remained headache free at the follow-up. The response of the headache to sumatriptan and other typical CH medications does not exclude a secondary form. Symptomatic CHs responsive to this therapy have been described. Associated cranial lesions such as tumours have been reported in CH patients and the attacks may be clinically indistinguishable from the primary form.
Conclusions
Neuroimaging, preferably contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging should always be considered in patients with cluster headache despite normal neurological examination. Late-onset cluster headache represents a condition that requires careful evaluation. Supra- and intrasellar arachnoid cyst can present as cluster headache.
doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-4
PMCID: PMC3568463  PMID: 23419954
Cluster headache; Arachnoid cyst; Neuroimaging; Secondary; Symptomatic; Magnetic resonance imaging; Computer tomography
9.  Sinusitis in children and adolescents with chronic or recurrent headache: a case–control study 
The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of misdiagnosis of sinus headache in migraine and other primary headache types in the children and adolescents with chronic or recurrent headaches. Children with chronic or recurrent headaches (n = 310) were prospectively evaluated. Data collection for each patient included history of previously diagnosed sinusitis due to headache, and additional sinusitis complaints (such as fever, cough, nasal discharge, postnasal discharge) at the time of sinusitis diagnosis, and improvement of the headache following treatment of sinusitis. If sinus radiographs existed they were recorded. The study included 214 patients with complete data. One hundred and sixteen (54.2%) patients have been diagnosed as sinusitis previously and 25% of them had at least one additional complaint, while 75% of them had none. Sinusitis treatment had no effect on the headaches in 60.3% of the patients. Sinus graphy had been performed in 52.8%, and 50.4% of them were normal. The prevalence of sinus headache concomitant with primary headache, and only sinus headache was detected in 7 and 1%, respectively, in our study. Approximately 40% of the patients with migraine and 60% of the patients with tension-type headache had been misdiagnosed as “sinus headache”. Children with chronic or recurrent headaches are frequently misdiagnosed as sinus headache and receive unnecessary sinusitis treatment and sinus graphy.
doi:10.1007/s10194-008-0007-0
PMCID: PMC3476172  PMID: 18219442
Headache; Migraine; Sinusitis
10.  Overview of diagnosis and management of paediatric headache. Part I: diagnosis 
Headache is the most common somatic complaint in children and adolescents. The evaluation should include detailed history of children and adolescents completed by detailed general and neurological examinations. Moreover, the possible role of psychological factors, life events and excessively stressful lifestyle in influencing recurrent headache need to be checked. The choice of laboratory tests rests on the differential diagnosis suggested by the history, the character and temporal pattern of the headache, and the physical and neurological examinations. Subjects who have any signs or symptoms of focal/progressive neurological disturbances should be investigated by neuroimaging techniques. The electroencephalogram and other neurophysiological examinations are of limited value in the routine evaluation of headaches. In a primary headache disorder, headache itself is the illness and headache is not attributed to any other disorder (e.g. migraine, tension-type headache, cluster headache and other trigeminal autonomic cephalgias). In secondary headache disorders, headache is the symptom of identifiable structural, metabolic or other abnormality. Red flags include the first or worst headache ever in the life, recent headache onset, increasing severity or frequency, occipital location, awakening from sleep because of headache, headache occurring exclusively in the morning associated with severe vomiting and headache associated with straining. Thus, the differential diagnosis between primary and secondary headaches rests mainly on clinical criteria. A thorough evaluation of headache in children and adolescents is necessary to make the correct diagnosis and initiate treatment, bearing in mind that children with headache are more likely to experience psychosocial adversity and to grow up with an excess of both headache and other physical and psychiatric symptoms and this creates an important healthcare problem for their future life.
doi:10.1007/s10194-011-0297-5
PMCID: PMC3056001  PMID: 21359874
Headache; Childhood; Paediatric headaches; Diagnosis; Epidemiology; Defining features
11.  Overview of diagnosis and management of paediatric headache. Part I: diagnosis 
Headache is the most common somatic complaint in children and adolescents. The evaluation should include detailed history of children and adolescents completed by detailed general and neurological examinations. Moreover, the possible role of psychological factors, life events and excessively stressful lifestyle in influencing recurrent headache need to be checked. The choice of laboratory tests rests on the differential diagnosis suggested by the history, the character and temporal pattern of the headache, and the physical and neurological examinations. Subjects who have any signs or symptoms of focal/progressive neurological disturbances should be investigated by neuroimaging techniques. The electroencephalogram and other neurophysiological examinations are of limited value in the routine evaluation of headaches. In a primary headache disorder, headache itself is the illness and headache is not attributed to any other disorder (e.g. migraine, tension-type headache, cluster headache and other trigeminal autonomic cephalgias). In secondary headache disorders, headache is the symptom of identifiable structural, metabolic or other abnormality. Red flags include the first or worst headache ever in the life, recent headache onset, increasing severity or frequency, occipital location, awakening from sleep because of headache, headache occurring exclusively in the morning associated with severe vomiting and headache associated with straining. Thus, the differential diagnosis between primary and secondary headaches rests mainly on clinical criteria. A thorough evaluation of headache in children and adolescents is necessary to make the correct diagnosis and initiate treatment, bearing in mind that children with headache are more likely to experience psychosocial adversity and to grow up with an excess of both headache and other physical and psychiatric symptoms and this creates an important healthcare problem for their future life.
doi:10.1007/s10194-011-0297-5
PMCID: PMC3056001  PMID: 21359874
Headache; Childhood; Paediatric headaches; Diagnosis; Epidemiology; Defining features
12.  Neurophysiological approach to central pain modulation in primary headaches 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2005;6(4):191-194.
The study of CNS painmodulating pathways has led to important discoveries about the role of central nociceptive structures such as PAG and hypothalamus in the pathophysiology of episodic and chronic primary headaches. Functional neuroimaging studies have revealed that primary headaches are characterised by different patterns of activation of central pain modulatory structures. A future model of headache pathophysiology investigating the contribution of CNS pain–modulating pathways will probably increase our understanding of pain processing in primary headaches. Herein we review the neurophysiological approaches to assess central pain modulation in primary headaches with emphasis on the diffuse noxious inhibitory control, a form of endogenous pain inhibition. In addition, patients’ data will be presented that highlights the utility of such methods for primary headache’s pathophysiology and clinical monitoring.
doi:10.1007/s10194-005-0182-1
PMCID: PMC3452008  PMID: 16362661
Neurophysiology; DNIC; Central pain modulation
13.  Serious neurological disorders in children with chronic headache 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2005;90(9):937-940.
Methods: All children presenting to a specialist headache clinic over seven years with headache as their main complaint were assessed by clinical history, physical and neurological examination, neuroimaging where indicated, and by follow up using prospective headache diaries. Results: A total of 815 children and adolescents (1.25–18.75 years of age, mean 10.8 years (SD 2.9); 432 male) were assessed. Mean duration of headache was 21.2 months (SD 21.2). Neuroimaging (brain CT or MRI) was carried out on 142 (17.5%) children. The vast majority of patients had idiopathic headache (migraine, tension, or unclassified headaches). Fifty one children (6.3%) had other chronic neurological disorders that were unrelated to the headache. The headache in three children (0.37%, 95% CI 0.08% to 1.1%) was related to active intracranial pathology which was predictable on clinical findings in two children but was unexpected until a later stage in one child (0.12%, 95% CI 0.006% to 0.68%).
Conclusions: Chronic headache in childhood is rarely due to serious intracranial pathology. Careful history and thorough clinical examination will identify most patients with serious underlying brain abnormalities. Change in headache symptomatology or personality change should lower the threshold for imaging.
doi:10.1136/adc.2004.067256
PMCID: PMC1720577  PMID: 16113128
14.  Economic impact of primary headaches in Turkey: a university hospital based study: part II 
This study was planned to investigate the economic impact of headache on Turkish headache sufferers attending a tertiary care outpatient headache clinic.
A total of 937 headache patients were included in this study and questioned using a questionnaire for the profile of patients and headache, quality of life of patients and economic impact of headache. The median total direct cost was found to be 88.0 USD and the median total cost was 160.7 USD. The drug treatment cost was the highest item followed by the specialist outpatient care cost. The average lost and inefficient work/school days was 1.5 (0–45) and 8.4 (0–100) days for one year.
It was shown that loss of productivity was higher for migraine without aura group when compared with the episodic and chronic tension–type headache groups. The results of this nationwide university hospital based study methshowed that headache, especially migraine, has considerable economic impact on patients.
doi:10.1007/s10194-006-0273-7
PMCID: PMC3451708  PMID: 16538424
Headache; Tensiontype headache; Migraine; Economic impact; Loss of work days
15.  Thunderclap headache attributed to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction: view and review 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2008;9(5):277-288.
Thunderclap headache attributed to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction (THARCV) is a syndrome observed in a number of reported cases. In this article we reviewed this new headache entity (idiopathic form) using the clinical-radiological findings of 25 reported patients. In this series of patients 72% were women, the mean age at the onset of first headache episode was 39.4 ± 2.3 years. In addition to the sine qua non condition of being abrupt and severe (thunderclap) at the onset, the headache was usually described as being explosive, excruciating, or crushing. The feature of pulsatility, accompanied or not by nausea was described by 80% of the patients. Forty percent of the cases manifested vomiting and 24% photophobia. Usually the headache was generalized, and in three cases it was unilateral at least at the onset. In 21 of 25 patients (84%) there was at least one recurrence or a sudden increase in the intensity of the headache. A past history of migraine was present in 52% of the patients. Precipitating factors were identified in 56% of the patients. Sexual intercourse was described by six patients. Of the 25 patients with THARCV syndrome studied, 12 (48%) developed focal neurological signs, transitory ischemic attack (n = 1), or ischemic stroke (n = 11, 44%), and two (8%) of them manifested seizures. The THARCV syndrome is a neurological disturbance perhaps more frequent than expected, preferentially affecting middle aged female migraineurs, and having an unpredictable prognosis, either showing a benign course or leading to stroke.
doi:10.1007/s10194-008-0054-6
PMCID: PMC3452202  PMID: 18668199
Headache; Vasospasm; Stroke; Thunderclap headache; Pathophysiology; Criteria
16.  Cerebral neurocysticercosis mimicking or comorbid with episodic migraine? 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:138.
Background
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-138
PMCID: PMC4083102  PMID: 24980846
Neurocysticercosis; Migraine; Headache; Neuroinflammation
17.  Examination of migraine management in emergency departments 
BACKGROUND:
Despite advances in treatment, patients with migraine have been underdiagnosed and undertreated, specifically in emergency departments. In addition, great variability exists with respect to the diagnosis, management and treatment of migraine patients in emergency departments. In particular, migraine-specific treatments, including serotonin receptor agonists, appear to be rarely used.
OBJECTIVE:
To examine the diagnosis and management of migraine patients within Ontario emergency departments.
METHODS:
A prospective survey was designed to inquire how emergency physicians diagnose and manage patients with migraine. Questions focused on the use of serotonin receptor agonists, the rationale behind their use or nonuse, and acute headache protocols. The survey also inquired about the use of International Classification Of Headache Disorders-2 criteria in diagnosing migraine by emergency physicians, medication prescribed on discharge, and referrals made to outpatient specialists. These surveys were distributed to and anonymously completed by emergency physicians in several departments in Ontario.
RESULTS:
Migraine-specific treatments were underused in emergency departments. Furthermore, many departments lacked headache protocols and, often, migraine-specific treatment was not included in the few departments with protocols.
CONCLUSIONS:
Diagnosis and management of migraines can be improved within emergency departments, and patients can be more effectively channelled toward appropriate outpatient care.
PMCID: PMC3198111  PMID: 21766068
Emergency department; Migraine; Triptans
18.  Neuroimaging for the Evaluation of Chronic Headaches 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objectives of this evidence based review are:
i) To determine the effectiveness of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in the evaluation of persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological examination.
ii) To determine the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI scans for detecting significant intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
iii) To determine the budget impact of CT and MRI scans for persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Headaches disorders are generally classified as either primary or secondary with further sub-classifications into specific headache types. Primary headaches are those not caused by a disease or medical condition and include i) tension-type headache, ii) migraine, iii) cluster headache and, iv) other primary headaches, such as hemicrania continua and new daily persistent headache. Secondary headaches include those headaches caused by an underlying medical condition. While primary headaches disorders are far more frequent than secondary headache disorders, there is an urge to carry out neuroimaging studies (CT and/or MRI scans) out of fear of missing uncommon secondary causes and often to relieve patient anxiety.
Tension type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder and migraines are the most common severe primary headache disorder. Cluster headaches are a type of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia and are less common than migraines and tension type headaches. Chronic headaches are defined as headaches present for at least 3 months and lasting greater than or equal to 15 days per month. The International Classification of Headache Disorders states that for most secondary headaches the characteristics of the headache are poorly described in the literature and for those headache disorders where it is well described there are few diagnostically important features.
The global prevalence of headache in general in the adult population is estimated at 46%, for tension-type headache it is 42% and 11% for migraine headache. The estimated prevalence of cluster headaches is 0.1% or 1 in 1000 persons. The prevalence of chronic daily headache is estimated at 3%.
Neuroimaging
Computed Tomography
Computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging technique used to aid diagnosis and to guide interventional and therapeutic procedures. It allows rapid acquisition of high-resolution three-dimensional images, providing radiologists and other physicians with cross-sectional views of a person’s anatomy. CT scanning poses risk of radiation exposure. The radiation exposure from a conventional CT scanner may emit effective doses of 2-4mSv for a typical head CT.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used to aid diagnosis but unlike CT it does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses a strong magnetic field to image a person’s anatomy. Compared to CT, MRI can provide increased contrast between the soft tissues of the body. Because of the persistent magnetic field, extra care is required in the magnetic resonance environment to ensure that injury or harm does not come to any personnel while in the environment.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness of CT and MRI scanning in the evaluation of persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological examination?
What is the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI scanning for detecting significant intracranial abnormality in persons with chronic headache and a normal neurological exam?
What is the budget impact of CT and MRI scans for persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on February 18, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January, 2005 to February, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, observational studies
Outpatient adult population with chronic headache and normal neurological exam
Studies reporting likelihood ratio of clinical variables for a significant intracranial abnormality
English language studies
2005-present
Exclusion Criteria
Studies which report outcomes for persons with seizures, focal symptoms, recent/new onset headache, change in presentation, thunderclap headache, and headache due to trauma
Persons with abnormal neurological examination
Case reports
Outcomes of Interest
Primary Outcome
Probability for intracranial abnormality
Secondary Outcome
Patient relief from anxiety
System service use
System costs
Detection rates for significant abnormalities in MRI and CT scans
Summary of Findings
Effectiveness
One systematic review, 1 small RCT, and 1 observational study met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The systematic review completed by Detsky, et al. reported the likelihood ratios of specific clinical variables to predict significant intracranial abnormalities. The RCT completed by Howard et al., evaluated whether neuroimaging persons with chronic headache increased or reduced patient anxiety. The prospective observational study by Sempere et al., provided evidence for the pre-test probability of intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headache as well as minimal data on the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI to detect intracranial abnormalities.
Outcome 1: Pre-test Probability.
The pre-test probability is usually related to the prevalence of the disease and can be adjusted depending on the characteristics of the population. The study by Sempere et al. determined the pre-test probability (prevalence) of significant intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headaches defined as headache experienced for at least a 4 week duration with a normal neurological exam. There is a pre-test probability of 0.9% (95% CI 0.5, 1.4) in persons with chronic headache and normal neurological exam. The highest pre-test probability of 5 found in persons with cluster headaches. The second highest, that of 3.7, was reported in persons with indeterminate type headache. There was a 0.75% rate of incidental findings.
Likelihood ratios for detecting a significant abnormality
Clinical findings from the history and physical may be used as screening test to predict abnormalities on neuroimaging. The extent to which the clinical variable may be a good predictive variable can be captured by reporting its likelihood ratio. The likelihood ratio provides an estimate of how much a test result will change the odds of having a disease or condition. The positive likelihood ratio (LR+) tells you how much the odds of having the disease increases when a test is positive. The negative likelihood ratio (LR-) tells you how much the odds of having the disease decreases when the test is negative.
Detsky et al., determined the likelihood ratio for specific clinical variable from 11 studies. There were 4 clinical variables with both statistically significant positive and negative likelihood ratios. These included: abnormal neurological exam (LR+ 5.3, LR- 0.72), undefined headache (LR+ 3.8, LR- 0.66), headache aggravated by exertion or valsalva (LR+ 2.3, LR- 0.70), and headache with vomiting (LR+ 1.8, and LR- 0.47). There were two clinical variables with a statistically significant positive likelihood ratio and non significant negative likelihood ratio. These included: cluster-type headache (LR+ 11, LR- 0.95), and headache with aura (LR+ 12.9, LR- 0.52). Finally, there were 8 clinical variables with both statistically non significant positive and negative likelihood ratios. These included: headache with focal symptoms, new onset headache, quick onset headache, worsening headache, male gender, headache with nausea, increased headache severity, and migraine type headache.
Outcome 2: Relief from Anxiety
Howard et al. completed an RCT of 150 persons to determine if neuroimaging for headaches was anxiolytic or anxiogenic. Persons were randomized to receiving either an MRI scan or no scan for investigation of their headache. The study population was stratified into those persons with a Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS) > 11 (the high anxiety and depression group) and those < 11 (the low anxiety and depression) so that there were 4 groups:
Group 1: High anxiety and depression, no scan group
Group 2: High anxiety and depression, scan group
Group 3: Low anxiety and depression, no scan group
Group 4: Low anxiety and depression, scan group
Anxiety
There was no evidence for any overall reduction in anxiety at 1 year as measured by a visual analogue scale of ‘level of worry’ when analysed by whether the person received a scan or not. Similarly, there was no interaction between anxiety and depression status and whether a scan was offered or not on patient anxiety. Anxiety did not decrease at 1 year to any statistically significant degree in the high anxiety and depression group (HADS positive) compared with the low anxiety and depression group (HADS negative).
There are serious methodological limitations in this study design which may have contributed to these negative results. First, when considering the comparison of ‘scan’ vs. ‘no scan’ groups, 12 people (16%) in the ‘no scan group’ actually received a scan within the follow up year. If indeed scanning does reduce anxiety then this contamination of the ‘no scan’ group may have reduced the effect between the groups results resulting in a non significant difference in anxiety scores between the ‘scanned’ and the ‘no scan’ group. Second, there was an inadequate sample size at 1 year follow up in each of the 4 groups which may have contributed to a Type II statistical error (missing a difference when one may exist) when comparing scan vs. no scan by anxiety and depression status. Therefore, based on the results and study limitations it is inconclusive as to whether scanning reduces anxiety.
Outcome 3: System Services
Howard et al., considered services used and system costs a secondary outcome. These were determined by examining primary care case notes at 1 year for consultation rates, symptoms, further investigations, and contact with secondary and tertiary care.
System Services
The authors report that the use of neurologist and psychiatrist services was significantly higher for those persons not offered as scan, regardless of their anxiety and depression status (P<0.001 for neurologist, and P=0.033 for psychiatrist)
Outcome 4: System Costs
System Costs
There was evidence of statistically significantly lower system costs if persons with high levels of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score >11) were provided with a scan (P=0.03 including inpatient costs, and 0.047 excluding inpatient costs).
Comparative Effectiveness of CT and MRI Scans
One study reported the detection rate for significant intracranial abnormalities using CT and MRI. In a cohort of 1876 persons with a non acute headache defined as any type of headache that had begun at least 4 weeks before enrolment Sempere et al. reported that the detection rate was 19/1432 (1.3%) using CT and 4/444 (0.9%) using MRI. Of 119 normal CT scans 2 (1.7%) had significant intracranial abnormality on MRI. The 2 cases were a small meningioma, and an acoustic neurinoma.
Summary
The evidence presented can be summarized as follows:
Pre-test Probability
Based on the results by Sempere et al., there is a low pre-test probability for intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headaches and a normal neurological exam (defined as headaches experiences for a minimum of 4 weeks). The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Likelihood Ratios
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al., there is a statistically significant positive and negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: abnormal neurological exam, undefined headache, headache aggravated by exertion or valsalva, headache with vomiting. Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al. there is a statistically significant positive likelihood ratio but non statistically significant negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: cluster headache and headache with aura. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al., there is a non significant positive and negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: headache with focal symptoms, new onset headache, quick onset headache, worsening headache, male gender, headache with nausea, increased headache severity, migraine type headache. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Relief from Anxiety
Based on the RCT by Howard et al., it is inconclusive whether neuroimaging scans in persons with a chronic headache are anxiolytic. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is low.
System Services
Based on the RCT by Howard et al. scanning persons with chronic headache regardless of their anxiety and/or depression level reduces service use. The Grade quality of evidence is low.
System Costs
Based on the RCT by Howard et al., scanning persons with a score greater than 11 on the High Anxiety and Depression Scale reduces system costs. The Grade quality of evidence is moderate.
Comparative Effectiveness of CT and MRI Scans
There is sparse evidence to determine the relative effectiveness of CT compared with MRI scanning for the detection of intracranial abnormalities. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this is very low.
Economic Analysis
Ontario Perspective
Volumes for neuroimaging of the head i.e. CT and MRI scans, from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) data set were used to investigate trends in the province for Fiscal Years (FY) 2004-2009.
Assumptions were made in order to investigate neuroimaging of the head for the indication of headache. From the literature, 27% of all CT and 13% of all MRI scans for the head were assumed to include an indication of headache. From that same retrospective chart review and personal communication with the author 16% of CT scans and 4% of MRI scans for the head were for the sole indication of headache. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) wait times data, 73% of all CT and 93% of all MRI scans in the province, irrespective of indication were outpatient procedures.
The expenditure for each FY reflects the volume for that year and since volumes have increased in the past 6 FYs, the expenditure has also increased with a pay-out reaching 3.0M and 2.8M for CT and MRI services of the head respectively for the indication of headache and a pay-out reaching 1.8M and 0.9M for CT and MRI services of the head respectively for the indication of headache only in FY 08/09.
Cost per Abnormal Finding
The yield of abnormal finding for a CT and MRI scan of the head for the indication of headache only is 2% and 5% respectively. Based on these yield a high-level estimate of the cost per abnormal finding with neuroimaging of the head for headache only can be calculated for each FY. In FY 08/09 there were 37,434 CT and 16,197 MRI scans of the head for headache only. These volumes would generate a yield of abnormal finding of 749 and 910 with a CT scan and MRI scan respectively. The expenditure for FY 08/09 was 1.8M and 0.9M for CT and MRI services respectively. Therefore the cost per abnormal finding would be $2,409 for CT and $957 for MRI. These cost per abnormal finding estimates were limited because they did not factor in comparators or the consequences associated with an abnormal reading or FNs. The estimates only consider the cost of the neuroimaging procedure and the yield of abnormal finding with the respective procedure.
PMCID: PMC3377587  PMID: 23074404
19.  Headache during airplane travel (“airplane headache”): first case in Greece 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2011;12(4):489-491.
Headache related to airplane flights is rare. We describe a 37-year-old female patient with multiple intense, jabbing headache episodes over the last 3 years that occur exclusively during airplane flights. The pain manifests during take-off and landing, and is located always in the left retro-orbital and frontotemporal area. It is occasionally accompanied by dizziness, but no additional symptoms occur. Pain intensity diminishes and disappears after 15–20 min. Apart from occasional dizziness, no other symptoms occur. The patient has a history of tension-type headache and polycystic ovaries. Blood tests and imaging revealed no abnormalities. Here, we present the first case in Greece. We review the current literature on this rare syndrome and discuss on possible pathophysiology and the investigation of possible co-factors such as anxiety and depression.
doi:10.1007/s10194-011-0337-1
PMCID: PMC3139067  PMID: 21626019
Headache; Airplane flights; Barotrauma; Pathophysiology
20.  Headache during airplane travel (“airplane headache”): first case in Greece 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2011;12(4):489-491.
Headache related to airplane flights is rare. We describe a 37-year-old female patient with multiple intense, jabbing headache episodes over the last 3 years that occur exclusively during airplane flights. The pain manifests during take-off and landing, and is located always in the left retro-orbital and frontotemporal area. It is occasionally accompanied by dizziness, but no additional symptoms occur. Pain intensity diminishes and disappears after 15–20 min. Apart from occasional dizziness, no other symptoms occur. The patient has a history of tension-type headache and polycystic ovaries. Blood tests and imaging revealed no abnormalities. Here, we present the first case in Greece. We review the current literature on this rare syndrome and discuss on possible pathophysiology and the investigation of possible co-factors such as anxiety and depression.
doi:10.1007/s10194-011-0337-1
PMCID: PMC3139067  PMID: 21626019
Headache; Airplane flights; Barotrauma; Pathophysiology
21.  Neuroimaging and other investigations in patients presenting with headache 
Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology  2012;15(Suppl 1):S23-S32.
Headache is very common. In the United Kingdom, it accounts for 4.4% of primary care consultations, 30% of referrals to neurology services and 0.5–0.8% of alert patients presenting to emergency departments. Primary headache disorders account for the majority of patients and most patients do not require investigation. Warning features (red flags) in the history and on examination help target those who need investigation and what investigations are required. This article summarizes the typical presentations of the common secondary headaches and what neuroimaging and other investigations are appropriate for each headache type.
doi:10.4103/0972-2327.99995
PMCID: PMC3444223  PMID: 23024561
Intracranial hypotension; lumbar puncture; neuroimaging; raised intracranial pressure; thunderclap headache
22.  Headache in Multiple Sclerosis 
The aim of this study was to investigate the variables affecting headache occurrence in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Seventy-two MS patients with comorbid headaches completed a 28-item questionnaire. This evaluation assessed each patient's demographics, headache description and modifying factors, social history, and impact on quality of life. Our patients reported a wide spectrum of headache presentations, characteristics, and resulting disability. We discuss the patterns in our data in the context of current hypotheses regarding headache and MS causality. In our patients, migraines with aura strongly correlated with MS exacerbations, suggesting that they might be useful as a marker for flare-up onset. Patients' pain descriptions varied based on their headache frequency, history, and relationship to MS progression. Due to the severity of headache in MS patients and resulting impact on their activities of daily living, a thorough analysis of headache presentation is warranted in such patients.
doi:10.7224/1537-2073.2012-035
PMCID: PMC3883008  PMID: 24453766
23.  Headache associated with cough: a review 
Headache only triggered by coughing is a rather uncommon condition. The aim of the present review is to present an overview of the diagnosis, clinical characteristics, pathophysiology and treatment of both primary and symptomatic cough headache and discuss other relevant headache disorders affected by coughing. The diagnosis of primary cough headache is made when headache is brought on and occurs only in association with coughing, straining or a Valsalva manoeuvre and in the absence of any abnormalities on neuro-imaging. In case an underlying pathology is identified as a cause of the headache, the diagnosis of symptomatic cough headache is made. The vast majority of these patients present with a Chiari malformation type I. Other frequently reported causes include miscellaneous posterior fossa pathology, carotid or vertebrobasilar disease and cerebral aneurysms. Consequently, diagnostic neuroimaging is key in the diagnosis of cough-related headache and guides treatment. Besides primary and symptomatic cough headache, several other both primary and secondary headache disorders exist where coughing acts as a trigger or aggravator of headache symptomatology.
doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-42
PMCID: PMC3671207  PMID: 23687906
Cough; Headache; Diagnosis; Treatment
24.  New daily persistent headache with a thunderclap headache onset and complete response to Nimodipine (A new distinct subtype of NDPH) 
At present new daily persistent headache is just a group of conditions that are connected based on the temporal profile of their mode of onset. If new daily persistent headache is a true distinct syndrome like migraine then we need to start to define subtypes that have specific effective treatments such has been noted for migraine sub-forms. We present what we believe is the first recognized subtype of new daily persistent headache that which starts with a thunderclap headache onset. A patient presented with a 13 month history of a daily headache from onset which initiated as a thunderclap headache along with persistent acalculia. All neuroimaging studies for secondary causes were negative. Nimodipine rapidly and completely alleviated her headache and associated neurologic symptoms. We propose that this subtype of new daily persistent headache is caused by a very rapid increase in CSF tumor necrosis factor alpha levels leading to cerebral artery vasospasm with a subsequent thunderclap headache, then continuous or near continuous cerebral artery vasospasm leading to a persistent daily headache. Nimodipine which not only inhibits cerebral artery vasospasm but also tumor necrosis factor alpha production appears to be a specific treatment for this distinct subtype of new daily persistent headache.
doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-100
PMCID: PMC3878041  PMID: 24364890
New daily persistent headache; Thunderclap headache; Vasospasm; Nimodipine; Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome; Acalculia
25.  Cervicogenic headache arising from hidden metastasis to cervical lymph node adjacent to the superficial cervical plexus -A case report- 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2011;60(2):134-137.
The differential diagnosis of headache is often difficult because the symptom of headache is overlapping. Superficial cervical plexus block is useful in diagnosis and treatment of headache. Headache arising from the neck and radiating to the frontotemporal regions and possibly to the supraorbital region has been defined as cervicogenic headache. A positive response to anesthetic blocks is one of the diagnostic criteria of cervicogenic headache. We experienced a case of headache arising from direct lymph node metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma adjacent to the superficial cervical plexus during treatment of cervicogenic headache under ultrasonographic guidance. Especially in patients with medical history of cancer, practitioners should consider the possibility of metastasis to cervical lymph nodes and using ultrasonography to evaluate the cervical area prior to the practice.
doi:10.4097/kjae.2011.60.2.134
PMCID: PMC3049882  PMID: 21390170
Cervicogenic headache; Diagnostic block; Metastasis; Superficial cervical plexus; Ultrasonography

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