J Am Coll Radiol. 2023 May;20(5S):S70-S93. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2023.02.018.
Headache is an ancient problem plaguing a large proportion of the population. At present, headache disorders rank third among the global causes of disability, accounting for over $78 billion per year in direct and indirect costs in the United States. Given the prevalence of headache and the wide range of possible etiologies, the goal of this document is to help clarify the most appropriate initial imaging guidelines for headache for eight clinical scenarios/variants, which range from acute onset, life-threatening etiologies to chronic benign scenarios. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed annually by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and revision process support the systematic analysis of the medical literature from peer reviewed journals. Established methodology principles such as Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation or GRADE are adapted to evaluate the evidence. The RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method User Manual provides the methodology to determine the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures for specific clinical scenarios. In those instances where peer reviewed literature is lacking or equivocal, experts may be the primary evidentiary source available to formulate a recommendation.