Incidental neuroimaging findings in nonacute headache

William D. Graf, Husam R. Kayyali, Ahmed T. Abdelmoity, Gloria L. Womelduff, Arthur R. Williams, Michael C. Morriss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We studied the frequency and consequences of incidental neuroimaging findings in 400 otherwise healthy, nonacute pediatric headache patients through a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis. We excluded patients with currently recommended clinical criteria to consider diagnostic neuroimaging. We categorized neuroimaging results as normal, remarkable without clinical action, remarkable with clinical follow-up action, and abnormal. One hundred eighty-five of 400 patients (46%) had neuroimaging. Of these, 78.4% of neuroimaging studies were normal, and none was considered abnormal. Also, 21.5% had remarkable findings in the neuroradiology report. The frequency and types of all incidental findings were generally comparable to previous studies. One third of these patients received further consultation or neuroimaging because of incidental findings. In the evaluation of nonacute pediatric headache, overuse of neuroimaging leads to frequent discovery of incidental findings and increased testing. Individualized health care calls for physician-consumer discussions about current indications for neuroimaging, the general frequency of incidental findings, and potential difficulties in their interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1182-1187
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of child neurology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • Chiari I malformation
  • diagnostic testing
  • headache
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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