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Goals and Objectives

  • Trainee will demonstrate competence in the initial evaluation and management of patients with headaches


Trainee will be able to:

  • List life- and function-threatening causes of headaches, including:​

    • Acute angle-closure glaucoma

    • Carbon monoxide toxicity

    • Cervical artery dissection

    • CNS infection

    • CNS mass

    • Giant cell (temporal) arteritis

    • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (Pseudotumor cerebri)

    • Intracranial hemorrhage

    • Venous thrombosis

  • List common causes of headaches that are not life- or function-threatening

    • Tension Headaches

    • Migraine Headaches

  • List essential exam steps for patients with headaches

    • HEENT exam

    • Neurologic exam

    • Meningismus evaluation

  • Describe indications for CNS imaging and lumbar puncture

  • Describe initial interventions for patients presenting with potentially life- and vision-threatening causes of headaches, including:

    • Antibiotics

    • Anticoagulation

    • Reversal of anticoagulation

    • Blood pressure management

    • Glucocorticoids

  • Describe initial interventions for patients presenting with non-life-threatening causes of headaches, including:

    • Analgesia

    • Life-style adjustments


Additional Resources


Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Cervical Artery Dissection

CNS Infections

CNS Masses
Giant Cell (Temporal) Arteritis
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Intracranial Hemorrhage
  • See: Stroke (EM Fundamentals)​​

Venous Thrombosis


Lower-Acuity Headaches

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