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EHC 2022 | A number theory diagnostic method for primary headache disorders

Primary headaches are common, and they negatively impact the productivity and life quality of the patients. Unfortunately, the precise diagnosis of the headache type is challenging and usually imprecise; thus, methods of headache diagnosis are the focus of intense research. Pengfei Zhang, MD, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ, explains how headaches disorder diagnosis using the third edition of The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD3) can be translated to a prime factorization problem. Each ICHD3 diagnosis criterion can be decomposed into logic statements, which then, in turn, can be used to generate a list of composite numbers through the following rules: if the logic AND is required, we multiply the two numbers; if the logic OR is required, we document both numbers in a list. To use the algorithm, the user answers yes or no to each of the headache characteristics; then, the user raises the corresponding prime numbers to 1st power if the answer is yes and 0th power if the answer is no. These numbers are then multiplied; if this number can be divided by a number in the list of composite numbers without remainder, then the corresponding ICHD3 diagnosis is diagnostic. This interview took place at the 16th European Headache Congress (EHC) in Vienna, Austria.

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