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Acta Neurol Belg. 2009 Mar;109(1):10-7.

Diagnostic and therapeutic trajectory of cluster headache patients in Flanders.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology of Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

A fraction of cluster headache (CH) patients face diagnostic delay, misdiagnosis, undertreatment and mismanagement. Specific data for Flanders are warranted.

METHODS:

Data on CH characteristics, diagnostic process and treatment history were gathered using a self-administered questionnaire with 90 items in CH patients that presented to 4 neurology outpatient clinics.

RESULTS:

Data for 85 patients (77 men) with a mean age of 44 years (range 23-69) were analysed. 79% suffered from episodic CH and 21% from chronic CH. A mean diagnostic delay of 44 months was reported. 31% of patients had to wait more than 4 years for the CH diagnosis. 52% of patients consulted at least 3 physicians prior to CH diagnosis. Most common misdiagnoses were migraine (45%), sinusitis (23%), tooth/jaw problems (23%), tension-type headache (16%) and trigeminal neuralgia (16%). A significant percentage of patients had never received access to injectable sumatriptan (26%) or oxygen (31%). Most prescribed preventative drugs after the CH diagnosis were verapamil (82%), lithium (35%), methysergide (31%) and topiramate (22%). Despite the CH diagnosis, ineffective preventatives were still used in some, including propranolol (12%), amitriptyline (9%) and carbamazepine (12%). 31% of patients had undergone invasive therapy prior to CH diagnosis, including dental procedures (21%) and sinus surgery (10%).

CONCLUSION:

Despite the obvious methodological limitations of this study, the need for better medical education on CH is evident to optimize CH management in Flanders.

PMID:
19402567
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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