OAK BROOK, Ill. A new study suggests that migraines are related to brain abnormalities present at birth and others that develop over time. The research is published online in the journal Radiology.
Migraines are intense, throbbing headaches, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Some patients experience auras, a change in visual or sensory function that precedes or occurs during the migraine. More than 300 million people suffer from migraines worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Previous research on migraine patients has shown atrophy of cortical regions in the brain related to pain processing, possibly due to chronic stimulation of those areas. Cortical refers to the cortex, or outer layer of the brain.
Much of that research has relied on voxel-based morphometry, which provides estimates of the brain's cortical volume. In the new study, Italian researchers used a different approach: a surface-based MRI method to measure cortical thickness.
"For the first time, we assessed cortical thickness and surface area abnormalities in patients with migraine, which are two components of cortical volume that provide different and complementary pieces of information," said Massimo Filippi, M.D., director of the Neuroimaging Research Unit at the University Ospedale San Raffaele and professor of neurology at the University Vita-Salute's San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan. "Indeed, cortical surface area increases dramatically during late fetal development as a consequence of cortical folding, while cortical thickness changes dynamically throughout the entire life span as a consequence of development and disease."
Dr. Filippi and colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to acquire T2-weighted and 3-D T1-weighted brain images from 63 migraine patients and 18 healthy controls. Using special software and statistical analysis, they estimated cortical thickness a
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Radiological Society of North America