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Med Clin North Am. 1991 May;75(3):525-44.

The radiology of headache.

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Department of Radiology, University of Chicago, Illinois.


The patient who presents with a severe and acute headache should be evaluated radiographically with CT. The key diagnosis to make in this situation is hemorrhage, either subarachnoid or intraparenchymal. Computed tomography is more sensitive to acute hemorrhage than is MRI. When the patient is stable, MRI frequently contributes information to narrow the diagnostic possibilities, because vascular malformations and certain parenchymal lesions have a characteristic appearance on MRI. Hydrocephalus may also present acutely and is easily seen on CT or MRI. In a patient may show WMF and atrophy. The patient with trigeminal neuropathy may demonstrate central or peripheral lesions. In temporomandibular joint dysfunction, conventional tomography and MRI are frequently used. Magnetic resonance imaging shows excellent detail of the disk and surrounding soft tissues, whereas tomography better demonstrates bony changes. When a history of trauma is present, MRI may show a subacute subdural hematoma. These collections are easily seen on MRI, even when isodense on CT. Evidence of old shear injury is also well seen on MRI. Finally, neoplastic, inflammatory, congenital, and idiopathic sources of headache may be demonstrated by either MRI or CT, depending on presentation. MRI will generally show superior characterization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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