, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 131-136

Cluster headache: A review of neuroimaging findings

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Abstract

Classified as a trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia, cluster headache is characterized by recurrent short-lived excruciating pain attacks, which are concurrent with autonomic signs. These clinical features have led to the assumption that cluster headache’s pathophysiology involves central nervous system structures, including the hypothalamus. In the past decade, neuroimaging studies have confirmed such clinically derived theory by uncovering in vivo neuronal changes located in the inferior posterior hypothalamus. Using a variety of neuroimaging techniques (functional [eg, functional MRI], biochemical [eg, magnetic resonance spectroscopy], and structural [eg, morphometry]) in patients with cluster headache, we are making improvements in our understanding of the role of the brain in this disorder. This article summarizes neuroimaging findings in cluster headache patients, describing neuronal changes that occur during attacks and remission, as well as during hypothalamic stimulation.