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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 69  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 10--16

Role of Functional Neuroimaging in Primary Headache Disorders

1 Department of Neurology, Martin Luther University Halle- Wittenberg and University Hospital Halle, Halle (Saale), Germany
2 Department of Neurology, Klinikum Weser-Egge, Höxter, Germany

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Steffen Naegel
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, University Hospital Halle, Ernst-Grube-Str. 40, 06120 Halle (Saale)
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.315987

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Background: Key structures for the pathophysiology of primary headache disorders such as migraine, cluster headache, and other trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias were identified by imaging in the past years. Objective: Available data on functional imaging in primary headache disorders are summarized in this review. Material and Methods: We performed a MEDLINE search on December 27th, 2020 using the search terms “primary headache” AND “imaging” that returned 453 results in English, out of which 137 were labeled reviews. All articles were evaluated for content and relevance for this narrative review. Results: The structure depicted most consistently using functional imaging in different states of primary headaches (without and with pain) was the posterior hypothalamus. Whole-brain imaging techniques such as resting-state functional resonance imaging showed a wide-ranging association of cortical and subcortical areas with human nociceptive processing in the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the different TACs. Similarities of distinct groups of primary headache disorders, as well as their differences in brain activation across these disorders, were highlighted. Conclusion: The importance of neuroimaging research from clinical practice point of view remains the reliable and objective distinction of each individual pain syndrome from one another. This will help to make the correct clinical diagnosis and pave the way for better and effective treatment in the future. More research will be necessary to fulfill this unmet need.


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Online since 20th March '04
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