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Int J Rehabil Res. 2010 Jun;33(2):151-7. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e328331c5b3.

Abnormal functional MRI BOLD contrast in the vegetative state after severe traumatic brain injury.

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Departments of Neurosurgery and of Radiology, University of Cologne, Germany.


For the rehabilitation process, the treatment of patients surviving brain injury in a vegetative state is still a serious challenge. The aim of this study was to investigate patients exhibiting severely disturbed consciousness using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Five cases of posttraumatic vegetative state and one with minimal consciousness close to the vegetative state were studied clinically, electrophysiologically, and by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging. Visual, sensory, and acoustic paradigms were used for stimulation. In three patients examined less than 2 months after trauma, a consistent decrease in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal ('negative activation') was observed for visual stimulation; one case even showed a decrease in BOLD activation for all three activation paradigms. In the remaining three cases examined more than 6 months after trauma, visual stimulation yielded positive BOLD contrast or no activation. In all cases, sensory stimulation was followed by a decrease in BOLD signal or no activation, whereas auditory stimulation failed to elicit any activation with the exception of one case. Functional magnetic resonance imaging in the vegetative state indicates retained yet abnormal brain function; this abnormality can be attributed to the impairment of cerebral vascular autoregulation or an increase in the energy consumption of activated neocortex in severe traumatic brain injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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