Clinical Features and Headache Diagnoses in Patients With Chief Complaint of Craniofacial Pain

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The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology


OBJECTIVES: Investigate the use of nasal endoscopy, sinus imaging, and neurologic evaluation in patients presenting to a rhinologist primarily for craniofacial pain.

METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of consecutive outpatients presenting to a rhinologist between 2016 and 2019 with chief complaints of craniofacial pain with or without other sinonasal symptoms, who were then referred to and evaluated by headache specialists. Data analyzed included sinusitis symptoms, Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22) scores (and facial pain subscores), pain location, nasal endoscopy, computed tomography (CT) findings, and headache diagnoses made by headache specialists.

RESULTS: Of the 134 patients with prominent craniofacial pain, the majority of patients were diagnosed with migraine (50%) or tension-type (22%) headache, followed by multiple other non-sinogenic headache disorders. Approximately 5% of patients had headaches attributed to sinusitis. Amongst all patients, 90% had negative nasal endoscopies. Patients with negative endoscopies were significantly less likely to report smell loss (P = .003) compared to those with positive endoscopies. Poor agreement was demonstrated between self-reported pain locations and sinus findings on CT (kappa values < 0.20). Negative nasal endoscopy showed high concurrence with negative CT findings (80%-97%).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients presenting with chief complaints of craniofacial pain generally met criteria for various non-sinogenic headache disorders. Nasal endoscopy was negative in 90% of patients, and CT demonstrated poor agreement with pain locations. Nasal endoscopy and CT shared high concurrence rates for negative sinus findings. The value of nasal endoscopy over sinus imaging in craniofacial pain evaluation should be explored in future studies.

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ePub ahead of print

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