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Anesthesiology. 2012 Oct;117(4):857-67.

Quantitative changes in regional cerebral blood flow induced by cold, heat and ischemic pain: a continuous arterial spin labeling study.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. froelich@uab.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The development of arterial spin labeling methods has allowed measuring regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) quantitatively and to show the pattern of cerebral activity associated with any state such as a sustained pain state or changes due to a neurotropic drug.

METHODS:

The authors studied the differential effects of three pain conditions in 10 healthy subjects on a 3 Tesla scanner during resting baseline, heat, cold, and ischemic pain using continuous arterial spin labeling.

RESULTS:

Cold pain showed the greatest absolute rCBF increases in left anterior cingulate cortex, left amygdala, left angular gyrus, and Brodmann area 6, and a significant rCBF decrease in the cerebellum. Changes in rCBF were characteristic of the type of pain condition: cold and heat pain showed increases, whereas the ischemic condition showed a reduction in mean absolute gray matter flow compared with rest. An association of subjects' pain tolerance and cerebral blood flow was noted.

CONCLUSIONS:

The observation that quantitative rCBF changes are characteristic of the pain task used and that there is a consistent rCBF change in Brodman area 6, an area responsible for the integration of a motor response to pain, should provide extremely useful information in the quest to develop an imaging biomarker of pain. Conceivably, response in BA6 may serve as an objective measure of analgesic efficacy.

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