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Cephalalgia. 2017 May;37(6):509-516. doi: 10.1177/0333102416651455. Epub 2016 May 22.

Paranasal sinus opacification in headache sufferers: A population-based imaging study (the HUNT study-MRI).

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1 Department of Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery, St. Olavs University Hospital, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
2 Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
3 Norwegian Advisory Unit on Headache, Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology, St. Olav University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
4 Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
5 Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


Background The association between headache and paranasal sinus disease is still unclear. Because of symptom overlap, the two conditions are not easily studied on the basis of symptoms alone. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether paranasal sinus opacification on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was associated with migraine, tension-type headache (TTH) or unclassified headache. Methods This was a cross-sectional study of 844 randomly selected participants (442 women, age range 50-65 years, mean age 57.7 years). Based on 14 headache questions, participants were allocated to four mutually exclusive groups: migraine, TTH, unclassified headache or headache free. On MRI, opacifications as mucosal thickening, polyps/retention cysts and fluid in the five paired sinuses were measured and recorded if ≥1 mm. For each participant, opacification thickness was summed for each sinus and, in addition, a total sum of all sinuses was calculated. Opacification in each sinus was compared between headache-free participants and the headache groups using non-parametric tests, and the total sum was compared by logistical regression. Results No significant association was found between paranasal sinus opacification and headache in general, nor when headache was differentiated into migraine, TTH and unclassified headache. This was also true in separate analyses of mucosal thickening and fluid and of opacification from each paranasal sinus. Conclusion Migraine, TTH and unclassified headache were found not to be associated with an increased degree of paranasal sinus opacification at MRI.


Paranasal sinuses; headache; magnetic resonance imaging; migraine; opacification; sinus headache; tension headache

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