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Sinus CT Scan Findings in "Sinus Headache" Migraineurs
Mark E. Mehle, MD, FACS; Patricia Kremer, RN
Posted: March 2008  
Headache 2008;48:67-71

Objective   To evaluate the sinus CT 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 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.