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Thunderclap headache
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 G44.80
ICD-9 339.43

A thunderclap headache is a headache that is severe and sudden (like a thunderclap).[1] Because it may be a sign of a medical emergency, some sources recommend immediate medical attention.[1]

In 25% of cases, a thunderclap headache is an indication of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which often leads to death or severe disability.[2] Headaches which accompany SAH are "frequently described as being the worst headache of one's life, although other clinical presentations are possible."[3]

Diagnosis is made via a process of exclusion with accompanying negative computed tomograph and lumbar puncture results.


Thunderclap headaches can be caused by a number of different primary conditions including[4][5]


  1. ^ a b "Thunderclap headaches". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2006-11-27.  
  2. ^ Linn, F H H; G J E Rinkel, A Algra, J van Gijn (November 1998). "Headache characteristics in subarachnoid haemorrhage and benign thunderclap headache". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 65: 791–793. doi:10.1136/jnnp.65.5.791. Retrieved 2007-01-09.  
  3. ^ "Evidence-Based Diagnosis of Nontraumatic Headache in the ER". Medscape. Retrieved 2006-11-27.  
  4. ^ Edlow JA, Panagos PD, Godwin SA, Thomas TL, Decker WW (October 2008). "Clinical policy: critical issues in the evaluation and management of adult patients presenting to the emergency department with acute headache". Ann Emerg Med 52 (4): 407–36. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2008.07.001. PMID 18809105.  
  5. ^ "UpToDate Inc.".  
  6. ^


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