• IHS criteria;
  • painful ophthalmoplegia;
  • Tolosa–Hunt syndrome

In 2004, the International Headache Society (IHS) re-defined the diagnostic criteria of Tolosa–Hunt syndrome (THS) specifying that granuloma, demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or biopsy, is required for diagnosis. We reviewed the literature on THS published from 1988 (year of publication of first IHS criteria) to 2002, analysing individual cases in relation to the new IHS criteria. One hundred and twenty-four cases were identified. As far as it was possible to discern, clinical presentation was similar in all, but 44 (35%) were reported to have inflammation on MRI or bioptic evidence of granuloma, 41/124 (33%) had normal neuroimaging findings and 39 (31%) had a specific lesion, so the THS was secondary. These data confirm that clinical criteria for THS are common to several conditions and their application alone does not guarantee a correct diagnosis. The requirement for inflammation on MRI will result in better classification of painful ophthalmoplegias; nevertheless, an MRI protocol that best defines inflammation should be specified. The status of cases which fulfil the clinical criteria but have normal MRI remains to be clarified.