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Keywords:

  • brain mapping;
  • headache;
  • human;
  • magnetic resonance imaging

Migraine is a common, disabling form of primary neurovascular headache. For most of the twentieth century it was regarded as a vascular headache whose primary pathophysiology lay in the cranial vasculature. Functional brain imaging using positron emission tomography has demonstrated activation of the rostral brain stem in acute migraine. Voxel-based morphometry is a new fully automated whole brain technique that is sensitive to subtle macroscopic and mesoscopic structural differences between groups of subjects. In this study 11 patients suffering from migraine with aura (10 females, one male: 23–52 years, mean 31); 11 controls (10 females, one male: 23–52, mean 31); 17 patients with migraine without aura (16 females, one male: 24–57, mean 34); 17 controls (16 females, one male: 24–57, mean 34) were imaged with high resolution volumetric magnetic resonance imaging. There was no significant difference in global grey or white matter volumes between either patients with migraine and controls, or patients with aura and without aura. This study did not show any global or regional macroscopic structural difference between patients with migraine and controls, with migraine sufferers taken as homogenous groups. If structural changes are to be found, other methods of phenotyping migraine, such as by genotype or perhaps treatment response, may be required to resolve completely whether there is some subtle structural change in the brain of patients with migraine.