Proposed Neuroimaging Guidelines May Result in Missed Diagnosis of Brain Tumors

An article in the January issue of Neurosurgeryraises concerns about recent guidelines seeking to reduce the use of neuroimaging tests for patients with headaches. The authors, from Washington University School of Medicine, write that the guidelines, while well-intentioned, run the risk of missing or delaying the diagnosis of brain tumors.

Headache is a common reason for physician visits, and in most cases, migraine and other types of headache can be diagnosed in the doctor's office without any special tests. Guidelines proposed by the American College of Radiology and Consumer Reports include the recommendation, “Don't do imaging for uncomplicated headaches.” “Uncomplicated headaches” equals most common types of stable headache, without any neurological abnormalities. The authors contend, however, that in a significant subset of patient presentations, headache may be the only symptom of a brain tumor, and urge additional research to develop “accurate and viable” guidelines on neuroimaging for headaches.

Read a news story, including a link to the journal article, here.


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