Migraine headaches are common but most are classified as “nonacute,” meaning they are not a symptom of a more severe underlying neurological or other problem such as a brain tumor, aneurysm, or stroke, according to the American Medical Association. The AMA reported that 17.2% of females and 6% percent of males or 13% of adults overall suffer from migraines. Diagnostic tests such as MRIs are not warranted in the vast majority of cases: 96.9% to 99.8% of cases as reported in various studies. Patients seeking treatment for migraines often demand brain scans, but they are seldom needed.
Medical researchers at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø discovered that telemedicine can be as efficacious and safe as clinical visits and conventional treatment protocols in treating patients with migraines. Northern Norway is a large area with numerous mountains, valleys, and fjords. The geography plus the region’s frequently extreme weather can make it difficult and expensive for patients to travel to the medical clinics that serve the sparsely populated area. Patient suffering from migraines find travel especially arduous. The university researchers hypothesized that telemedicine consultations could be a safe and effective alternative to in-person clinical visits.
The study measured the effectiveness of telemedicine consults over a 12-month follow-up after the initial consultation. There were 409 subjects, randomly assigned to either telemedicine or traditional consultations. In the end, there was no significant statistical difference in the outcomes, as measured by the occurrence of secondary headaches. The results of the study, published in Neurology, are considered Class III evidence that one-time telemedical consultation is “noninferior” (as good as) one-time conventional consultation in regards to long-term treatment outcome and safety.