GPs are also able to refer patients directly for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), but at present, there is a mixed uptake of this service.
Aim of TOHETI Headache study was to evaluate whether direct access from GPs to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for patients with chronic headache is cost-saving at 6 months after the initial episode at Secondary Care, compared to an initial referral from GPs to Neurology. Please note that the study is not currently recruiting. We completed recruitment in Feb’2018 ( 249 patients recruited in the study). Our current focus is on follow up on recruited patients and compiling their data.
In the vast majority of cases where patients are directly referred to MRI, no serious underlying pathology will be found, enabling earlier GP and patient reassurance. For the few patients with worrying pathology, this will speed up the diagnostic pathway to tertiary care.
A qualitative study is taking place now to focus on GP’s views on direct access to MRI scanning for patients with chronic headache, versus referral to neurology.
“We are comparing two pathways for patients with chronic headache to assess cost-effectiveness, patient satisfaction and outcome. One involves enabling direct GP access to imaging and the other is via referral to Neurology. The outcome of the study will enable us to improve and develop future headache pathways.” Dr Shazia Afridi, Consultant Neurologist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; Chief Investigator TOHETI Chronic Headache Research Pathway (Quantitative)