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Headache. 1996 Nov-Dec;36(10):616-21.

Frequency of magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities in patients with migraine.

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Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.



The frequency of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in patients with migraine has been reported at 12% to 46%. We examined a series of patients to determine the frequency of MRI abnormalities, and any relationship of frequency with patient age, sex, migraine type, duration of symptoms, and other medical conditions.


Magnetic resonance imaging findings were reviewed retrospectively with respect to presence of focal white matter hyperintensities in 185 consecutive patients. Patients had been diagnosed with migraine by a neurologist. All images had been interpreted by a neuroradiologist. Clinical information was obtained by chart review.


Sixteen percent had focal white matter abnormalities. Among patients less than 50 years old, and without other medical problems such as hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, autoimmune disorder or demyelinating disease, only 6% had white matter abnormalities. Increased frequency of white matter abnormalities was associated with age and medical risk factors, but not with sex, migraine subtype, or duration of migraine symptoms.


The observed frequency of MRI abnormalities in our series is lower than has been previously reported. In many cases, these abnormalities may be unrelated to migraine. When such changes are discovered in a patient with migraine, other etiologies should be considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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