Evaluation and Treatment of Headache Patients in the Emergency Department: A Survey.
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2005
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Volume 34, Issue 2, pages 91–94, February 1994
How to Cite
Barton, C. W. (1994), Evaluation and Treatment of Headache Patients in the Emergency Department: A Survey. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 34: 91–94. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.1994.hed3402091.x
- Issue published online: 18 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 18 MAY 2005
- Accepted for publication: August 17, 1993
- Cited By
Patients with headache represent a common diagnostic and treatment challenge for health care providers in the emergency department. The therapeutic options continue to grow, yet many studies imply that narcotics continue to be a frequently chosen treatment. In this retrospective cross-sectional survey, the evaluation and treatment patterns of patients presenting to an academic medical center emergency department with a primary diagnosis of headache were analyzed. Headache disorders accounted for 1.7% of all visits to the emergency department. Migraine headache was the most common headache diagnosis representing 60% of headache visits followed by headache of no obvious source at 25%. Narcotics were the most common treatment employed (180 patient-visits) in all patients and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents were the second most common agent used (86 patient visits). Narcotics were also the most common therapy in migraine headache patients (152 patient-visits) while ergotamines were used in less than one-third of patient-visits (36 patient-visits). Therapy of headache patients in the emergency department continues to rely on narcotics. Methods of interrupting the dependence on narcotics need to be explored if newer non-narcotic therapies are to be successful.