Diagnostic Tests for Migraines

Computed tomography (CT scan) is performed to rule out an underlying brain abnormality when migraines are new or when there is a change in their character or frequency. CT scan involves injecting contrast dye and then taking a series of x-rays.

Electroencephalography (EEG) records electrical signal within the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp. This test is used to detect malfunctions in brain activity (e.g., seizures).

Spinal tap (lumbar puncture) is performed to detect infection and determine levels of white blood cells, glucose, and protein in the cerebrospinal fluid. This test involves withdrawing a small amount of fluid and examining it under a microscope.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) may be performed for a more complete evaluation. MRI produces clear images of the brain using electromagnetic energy. MRA produces images of blood vessels in the brain and is used to detect aneurysms and other vascular abnormalities.

Publication Review By: Sandeep K. Aggarwal, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2002

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015