A new study finds headache sufferers undergo about $1 billion worth of brain scans each year, even though most of those tests are unnecessary.
Many people who celebrated St. Patrick's Day at the Power and Light District may be reaching for some headache relief Tuesday morning.
However, those headache sufferers might want to think twice before heading to the doctor.
Researchers in Michigan found 12 percent of patients who complain of headaches and migraines end up getting a MRI or a CT scan despite past research that shows the odds are extremely low that the scans will detect a problem.
Brain scans for headaches jumped from about 5 percent of patient visits in 1995 to nearly 15 percent in 2010, the researchers found.
Brain scans can cost as much as $4,000. Insurance often covers only a fraction of that cost.
Researchers say doctors may be ordering the tests anyway to put patients' minds at ease or to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits.
According to experts, you should get a test if headaches are sudden or explosive, different from any headache you've had before, especially if you are 50 or older, or if the headaches are accompanied by fever, seizure, vomiting, a loss of coordination or a change in vision, speech or alertness.
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