The International Classification of Headache Disorders: accurate diagnosis of orofacial pain?


Professor Rafael Benoliel, BDS, LDS, RCS, Department of Oral Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, Hebrew University-Hadassah, POB 12272, Jerusalem, Israel. Tel. + 972 2677 6140, fax + 972 2644 7919, e-mail


The aim was to apply diagnostic criteria, as published by the International Headache Society (IHS), to the diagnosis of orofacial pain. A total of 328 consecutive patients with orofacial pain were collected over a period of 2 years. The orofacial pain clinic routinely employs criteria published by the IHS, the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP) and the Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (RDCTMD). Employing IHS criteria, 184 patients were successfully diagnosed (56%), including 34 with persistent idiopathic facial pain. In the remaining 144 we applied AAOP/RDCTMD criteria and diagnosed 120 as masticatory myofascial pain (MMP) resulting in a diagnostic efficiency of 92.7% (304/328) when applying the three classifications (IHS, AAOP, RDCTMD). Employing further published criteria, 23 patients were diagnosed as neurovascular orofacial pain (NVOP, facial migraine) and one as a neuropathy secondary to connective tissue disease. All the patients were therefore allocated to predefined diagnoses. MMP is clearly defined by AAOP and the RDCTMD. However, NVOP is not defined by any of the above classification systems. The features of MMP and NVOP are presented and analysed with calculations for positive (PPV) and negative predictive values (NPV). In MMP the combination of facial pain aggravated by jaw movement, and the presence of three or more tender muscles resulted in a PPV = 0.82 and a NPV = 0.86. For NVOP the combination of facial pain, throbbing quality, autonomic and/or systemic features and attack duration of > 60 min gave a PPV = 0.71 and a NPV = 0.95. Expansion of the IHS system is needed so as to integrate more orofacial pain syndromes.