A new study published online this week in The American Journal of Medicine contends that headache patients are undergoing too many CT scans. Researchers from Canada’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences reviewed the circumstances of nearly 4,000 CT scans ordered in Ontario in a single year, and found that a quarter of all scans were requested to evaluate patients with headaches. However, of those 623 scans, only 2% revealed anything that was helpful in determining the cause of the patient’s symptoms.
This reliance on a service that is often ineffective for diagnosis is worrisome, because other research has raised questions about the health risks posed by radiation exposure during CT scans. The investigators in this study noted that 28% of the patients had undergone multiple CT scans, many ordered by doctors other than their primary physician, and some within short time periods.
The researchers raise the question of whether overuse of CT scans for headache is unnecessarily exposing patients to an increased risk of cancer, and they conclude that health professions should avoid the use of CT scans in most headache cases.
Spinal manipulation and chiropractic has been found to be effective for treating certain types of headache. Dr. Kari Keller, a chiropractor in Mascoutah, Il, has some helpful information on her site for those who want to learn more.