Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have migraines or a family history of migraine headaches, your doctor trained in treating headaches (neurologist) will likely diagnose the condition on the basis of your medical history, a review of your symptoms, and a physical and neurological examination.

Your doctor may also recommend a variety of tests to rule out other possible causes for your pain if your condition is unusual, complex or suddenly becomes severe.

  • Blood tests. Your doctor may order blood tests to test for blood vessel problems, infections in your spinal cord or brain, and toxins in your system.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of your brain. This helps doctors diagnose tumors, infections, brain damage, bleeding in your brain and other possible medical problems that may be causing your headaches.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of your brain and blood vessels.

    MRI scans help doctors diagnose tumors, strokes, bleeding in your brain, infections, and other brain and nervous system (neurological) conditions.
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture). If your doctor suspects an underlying condition, such as infections or bleeding in your brain, he or she may recommend a spinal tap (lumbar puncture).

    In this procedure, a thin needle is inserted between two vertebrae in your lower back to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for laboratory analysis.
Jun. 04, 2013