Computed tomography scan of the head in patients with migraine or tension-type headache

Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2002 Sep;60(3-A):542-7.


A retrospective study was performed in order to evaluate the frequency of abnormalities found by computed tomography (CT) scan of the head in 78 patients with migraine or tension-type headache. In the present study CT scan was normal in 61.5% of the patients with migraine or tension-type headache. A number of abnormalities were encountered in more than one third of the patients studied, including inflammatory sinus disease (19.2%), cysticercosis (3.9%), unruptured cerebral aneurysm (2.6%), basilar impression (2.6%), intracranial lipoma (2.6%), arachnoid cyst (2.6%), empty sella (2.6%), intracranial neoplasm (2.6%), and others (2.6%). None of these lesions were symptomatic or responsible by the headache picture, therefore, considered incidental findings. In conclusion, the fortuitous encounter of some abnormalities on CT scan of the head is often higher than what we could predict in patients suffering migraine or tension-type headache. We briefly discuss clinical, epidemiologic, and practical management of some of the abnormalities detected by CT scan as well as the indication to request a neuroimaging investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tension-Type Headache / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tension-Type Headache / epidemiology
  • Tension-Type Headache / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed