Making Invisible Migraine Visible

We usually talk about migraine as an “invisible illness”. It’s not always easy (for the layperson especially) to see that someone is having a migraine attack. And it’s even harder to see the burden of migraine that is still on the shoulders of someone who is not currently in the middle of a migraine attack.

Seeing Migraine in the BrainResearchers have been looking for ways to make migraine visible. That is, a way to test for migraine in a lab.

For example, we’re very interested to know if a reliable blood test could be developed for migraine – maybe even a test that tells us what type of migraine that person has, and therefore what the best treatment would be.

In June, a report in the journal Cephalalgia went a different direction. What about an MRI for migraine?

This MRI was actually a rs-fMRI – which stands for resting-state functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging (for all you health care geeks who want to impress your friends). The test was very simple. Could the MRI distinguish between a healthy individual and a migraine patient?

33 regions of the brain were studied, and the test turned out – not bad. It wasn’t 100% accurate (not many tests are!), but it managed to reach 86.1%. For those who had suffered from migraine for 14 years or more, the accuracy reached 96.7%.

Tests like this can give us an improving understanding of the progression and biology of migraine, and may in the future allow us to test for migraine in a non-invasive way, leading to faster and more accurate diagnosis.

For more, see the study abstract here: Migraine classification using magnetic resonance imaging resting-state functional connectivity data

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