Calc Function

    • Calcs that help predict probability of a diseaseDiagnosis
    • Subcategory of 'Diagnosis' designed to be very sensitiveRule Out
    • Disease is diagnosed: prognosticate to guide treatmentPrognosis
    • Numerical inputs and outputsFormula
    • Med treatment and moreTreatment
    • Suggested protocolsAlgorithm





    Chief Complaint


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    Headache (beta)

    Official guideline from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

    Summary by Eric Steinberg, DO
    Level A
    Level B
    Level C


    Risk Stratification
    1. Use the Ottawa Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Rule (>40 years, complaint of neck pain or stiffness, witnessed loss of consciousness, onset with exertion, thunderclap headache, and limited neck flexion on examination) as a decision rule that has high sensitivity to rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage, but low specificity to rule in subarachnoid hemorrhage, for patients presenting to the emergency department with a normal neurologic examination result and peak headache severity within 1 hour of onset of pain symptoms.
    2. Although the presence of neck pain and stiffness on physical examination in emergency department patients with an acute headache is strongly associated with subarachnoid hemorrhage, do not use a single physical sign and/or symptom to rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage.
    Further Diagnostic Testing
    1. Use a normal noncontrast head computed tomography* performed within 6 hours of symptom onset in an emergency department headache patient with a normal neurologic examination, to rule out nontraumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage. *Minimum third-generation scanner.
    Lumbar Puncture
    1. Perform lumbar puncture or computed tomography angiography to safely rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage in the adult emergency department patient who is still considered to be at risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage after a negative noncontrast head computed tomography result.
    2. Use shared decision making to select the best modality for each patient after weighing the potential for false-positive imaging and the pros and cons associated with lumbar puncture.


    Nonopioid Medications
    1. Preferentially use nonopioid medications in the treatment of acute primary headaches in emergency department patients.
    What do the icons mean?  
    Research PaperGodwin SA, Cherkas DS, Panagos PD, et al. American College of Emergency Physicians. Clinical Policy: Critical Issues in the Evaluation and Management of Adult Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department With Acute Headache. 2019.