Sinus CT Scan Findings in “Sinus Headache” Migraineurs

Authors

  • Mark E. Mehle MD, FACS,

    1. From the Department of Anatomy, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, and private practice, Cleveland, OH, USA (Dr. Mehle); and Department of Surgery, Southwest General Hospital, Middleburg Heights, OH, USA (Ms. Kremer).
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  • Patricia S. Kremer RN

    1. From the Department of Anatomy, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, and private practice, Cleveland, OH, USA (Dr. Mehle); and Department of Surgery, Southwest General Hospital, Middleburg Heights, OH, USA (Ms. Kremer).
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Mark E. Mehle, ENT Health Services, 25761 Lorain Rd., North Olmsted, OH 44070, USA.

Abstract

Objective.— To evaluate the sinus CT scan findings in “sinus headache” migraineurs, and to compare the findings to nonmigraine “sinus headache” patients.

Background.— The majority of patients presenting with “sinus headache” satisfy the International Headache Society (IHS) criteria for migraine headache. Few studies have correlated the rhinologic complaints and computed tomography (CT) findings in these patients.

Methods.— Thirty-five patients with “sinus headache” were evaluated prospectively and referred for CT of the paranasal sinuses. The CT scans were assessed for sinus abnormality (recorded as a Lund–Mackay [L-M] score) and were analyzed for concha bullosa and septal deviation. The findings in the migraine cohort were compared with the nonmigraine “sinus headache” patients.

Findings.— Twenty-six patients (74.3%) satisfied the IHS criteria for migraine. The mean CT scan L-M score did not differ significantly between the migraine (2.07) and nonmigraine cohort (2.66). Five of the migraine group had substantial sinus disease radiographically (with L-M scores of 5 or above). Concha bullosa of at least 1 middle turbinate was more common in the nonmigraine cohort. An analysis of the sidedness of the headaches, sinus disease, concha bullosa, and/or septal deviation is presented.

Conclusions.— The majority of “sinus headache” patients satisfy the IHS criteria for migraine. Surprisingly, these patients often have radiographic sinus disease. This raises the possibility of selection bias in otolaryngology patients, inaccurate diagnosis, or radiographic sinus disease and migraine as comorbid conditions. Positive migraine histories apparently do not obviate the need for a thorough ENT workup, possibly including CT scanning.

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