Headache tests

Find reliable independent health and treatment information about headache tests written by Australian experts. This includes resources for consumers and health professionals.

About tests for headaches

Find out about medical imaging tests for headaches, and when they may, or may not, be recommended.

Find out more

For health professionals  

Headache is common and most are benign. Patients with recurrent benign headache need reassurance and a targeted physical and neurological examination, together with a detailed history, can provide this as well as enabling a differential diagnosis for more serious conditions. Neuroimaging should be reserved for patients with definite indicators of serious conditions (‘red flags’).

For your patients

  • Headache diary
    Provides general information about headaches and allows patients to record details such as frequency, severity, suspected triggers and medicines use to inform discussion of the impact of headache, ensure appropriate follow-up and monitor response to treatment
  • More information for patients about headaches

Clinical information

Quality use of medical tests means choosing the right test for the patient and using it at the right time. We have compiled some of the latest evidence and guidelines on neurological tests to help you discuss the relevance of this with your patients.

Other resources

  • NPS News 79
    Focuses on headache diagnosis and the role of neuroimaging, management of headache and prevention (including non-drug strategies).
  • Practice Review 59
    Practical advice and the supporting evidence about the role of a detailed history and targeted examination in diagnosing headache.

Related information - headache tests

Audience:
       

(Medical test)
12 May 2015 Find out when MRI is less useful for the diagnosis or management of your medical condition..
For health professionals (Health professional publication)
28 Nov 2013 MRI is most effective when it supplements history and physical examination. What can you do to ensure best use of MRI for specified clinical indications of the head, spine and knee?
(Medical test)
28 Jun 2013 The best way to accurately diagnose your headache is for your doctor to take a detailed history. There are no diagnostic tests for primary headaches. Find out more.
(Medical test)
27 Nov 2012 Most people who suffer headache will require no further investigation. However, taking a comprehensive history and conducting careful examination, may show a need for neuroimaging (e.g. CT scan or MRI).
(Medical test)
27 Nov 2012 Most people who suffer headache will require no further investigation. However, taking a comprehensive history and conducting careful examination, may show a need for neuroimaging (e.g. CT scan or MRI).
(Condition)
15 Nov 2012 Find out about seeing a doctor for the diagnosis of headache, medical tests to diagnose headache including scans, and treatment of including medicine and non-medicine options. Useful links and resources.