Diagnostic yield for neuroimaging in patients with unilateral eye or facial pain

Hooman Harooni, Karl C. Golnik, Brooke Geddie, Eric R. Eggenberger, Andrew G. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: The neuroimaging evaluation of isolated pain in or around the eye has not been studied previously. We report the low diagnostic yield of neuroimaging in patients who have a normal ocular examination and unilateral eye pain or facial pain predominantly affecting the eye. Methods: Retrospective review of patients referred to 3 neuro-ophthalmology practices for unexplained pain in or around the eye. Inclusion criteria were adults with isolated unilateral eye/facial pain, neuroimaging, and a normal eye exam. Exclusion criteria were symptoms typical of a defined pain syndrome (e.g., trigeminal neuralgia or giant cell arteritis), and exam findings that would account for the pain. Results: One hundred and twenty-seven (127) of the 760 reviewed patients met study criteria, and underwent MRI (75) or CT (34) scans, or both (18). Imaging was normal in 106 (83%). Abnormalities (n = 21) on imaging (17%) included nonspecific T2-weighted hyperintensities (10), sinusitis (5), superior ophthalmic vein enlargement (1), pontine lacunar infarct (1), Chiari malformation (1), thalamic mass (1), old occipital stroke (1), and focal enlargement of the third cranial nerve (1). Interpretation: Although imaging showed abnormalities in 17% of cases of isolated pain in or around the eye, only 2 abnormalities were believed to be possibly related to the pain and only 1 case was probably related. The diagnostic yield of neuroimaging in patients with a normal examination and isolated, unilateral eye/facial pain referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist is low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-763
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Isolated atypical eye facial pain magnetic resonance imaging computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnostic yield for neuroimaging in patients with unilateral eye or facial pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this