Tests to Diagnose Headache: Blood Tests, Imaging, EEG, Eye Examination, Spinal Tap

Blood Tests to Diagnose Headache

  • Hemoglobin – Low hemoglobin in anemia secondary bleeding or autoimmune disease.
  • White Blood Cell Count – Increased in infection e.g. meningitis, encephalitis.
  • Thrombocytopenia – Decrease platelet count in bleeding disorder causing headache.
  • ESR and CRP – Level increased in temporal arteritis or systemic disease.[1]
  • CreatinineKidney disease and kidney failure associated with headache.
  • Hypercalcemia – Increased calcium level in blood associated with headache.
  • Thyroid Function Test – Low thyroid hormone in hypothyroidism causing headache.[2]
  • Liver Function Test – Abnormal liver function test may be associated with primary or metastatic tumor of liver and brain.
  • VDRL and ESR – Increased in tuberculosis and veneral diseases associated with headache.
  • HIV – Patient with positive HIV may be suffering with headache.

Blood Tests to Diagnose Headache

Imaging Tests to Diagnose Headache

CT scan of brain – Useful in diagnosis of hemorrhage, brain tumor or brain metastasis.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of The Brain– Assist in evaluation and diagnosis of multiple diseases causing headache:

Contraindication for MRI

  • Pregnancy.
  • Kidney problem.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Devices – Arterial stent, pacemaker, mitral heart valve, spinal cord stimulator, intrathecal catheter and programmable pain pump, brain stimulator, limb prosthesis, IUD.
  • Remove metal object – jewelry, watches, Denture, hearing aids, hairpins, coins and credit cards.[4]

Sinus X-Ray to Diagnose Headache

Sinus infection such as frontal and maxillary sinusitis can cause sever headache. X-ray is used to diagnosed sinusitis.[5]

Electoencephalogram (EEG) to Diagnose Headache

Used in seizure disorder associated with headache.[6]

Eye Examination to Diagnose Headache

Eye examination with ophthalmoscope by eye specialist – rule out glaucoma and optic neuropathy.

Spinal Tap to Diagnose Headache

Spinal tap procedure is performed in operating room under sterile conditions. Cerebrospinal fluid is collected and studied for infection and autoimmune diseases.[7]


Also Read: