Role of MRI in Headache Evaluation

Headaches are one of the most common healthcare problems and is one of the leading causes for outpatient visits. WHO estimates that three quarters of adults aged 18 – 65 years suffer from headache each year and about 30% reportedly have a migraine episode.

While there are multiple treatment options for headaches, the biggest pain point for doctors is the diagnosis. Doctors often use patient’s medical history and symptoms to diagnose a headache; however, now more than ever, they are utilizing advanced tech like MRI in headache evaluation when they professionally think it might help.

Unlike a CT scan, MRI does not use radiation. MRI technology has been built to use radio waves along with a strong magnetic field to provide clear, detailed images.

When other tests and diagnostics are not able to provide a concrete answer, doctors rely heavily on an MRI scan because it is able to generate a relatively detailed image of the brain. It is able to show areas that cannot be seen with any other imaging technology. It allows doctors to look at the very structure of the brain and identify or rule out certain but not all causes of headaches such as tumours, infections, bleeds or clots.

It can reliably highlight the irregular areas in the brain. This enables doctors to gain more evidence to reach a diagnosis and may help them provide treatment accordingly.