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Headache snapshot: Examining the diagnostic approaches for patients presenting to the Emergency Department with a headache

Quick facts

Principal investigator:
Dr Kevin Chu
Team members:
Dr Jeremy Furyk, Prof Gerben Keijzers, Dr Carol Windsor, Dr Rob Eley, Dr Frances Kinnear, and Dr Andrew Staib
Project commenced:

A small proportion of patients with a headache are diagnosed with serious conditions such as subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH).

About one in three of these patients die and another one in three survive with a disability. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential.

Diagnosis involves a Computed Tomography (CT) scan and a spinal puncture. However, these tests are not 100% accurate, and doctors and patients are concerned about complications from these tests. As a result, variability exists in tests ordered and why they are ordered.

This study looked at how Queensland emergency departments investigated headaches, with a focus on diagnosing SAH. An understanding of this variability can assist doctors to develop guidelines and streamline diagnosis of patients with suspected SAH.

“This study provided a great platform to collaborate with many hospitals in Queensland. It was one of the first state-wide ‘snapshot’ projects supported by QERC, which methodology was later used in AANADEM (link) and ARISE FLUIDS. It also paved the way for the follow up study – HEAD.”

—Prof Gerben Keijzers

Grants Awarded

Emergency Medicine Foundation

Last updated 19 Aug 2020