Headaches May Be The Only Clue To Brain Tumor

Headaches are common; more prevalent than we imagine them to be. According to the latest research article published in the journal Neurosurgery, headaches may be associated with brain tumors.

The article was written by Ammar H. Hawasli, who belongs to the Department of Neurological Surgery in the Washington University School of Medicine, in response to the latest guidelines issued to decrease the practice of using neuroimaging techniques generally employed to patients with complaints of headaches. Neuroimaging techniques are expensive and reduction in employment of techniques like MRI and CT imaging would prove to be cost-effective in patients with stable headaches.

Regarding this issue Hawasli says, “Although the intentions are laudable, these guidelines are inconsistent with the neurosurgeon’s experience with patients with brain tumor.”

In the surgical department, it has been observed that most people may not give a symptom other than a headache. The researchers wanted to demonstrate this finding and analyzed 95 patients with brain tumors in a retrospective study. They were assessed according to the guidelines and the researchers saw that 3 out of 11 patients could not qualify for imaging techniques and would have slipped detection.

“These guidelines threaten to negatively affect the care and outcomes of patients with brain tumors, who frequently present with minimal symptoms or isolated headaches syndromes, “ says Hawasli.

According to the study, most patients tend to show mixed symptom, a substantial amount of people may present with just headache as a cardinal symptom or may present with no symptom at all. Those who do not have any symptoms may be at a greater risk since “early diagnosis of brain tumors allows prompt treatment before more severe symptoms, reduced performance status, and worsened outcomes” develop in these patients.

The researchers believe that medical personnel who excel in the fields and are better aware of the facts and figures should be the people who lay down the safety guidelines and help the patients rather than “creating over-reaching guidelines that could harm specific patient populations”.

“By participating in the development of validated clinical decision rules on neuroimaging for headaches, neurosurgeon can advocate for their patients and improve their patients’ outcomes,” concluded the researcher.

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