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J Nucl Med. 1993 May;34(5):723-7.

Regional cerebral blood flow improves with treatment in chronic cocaine polydrug users.

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Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Brain perfusion is abnormal in chronic cocaine users. To determine whether these perfusion abnormalities are reversible following treatment, we studied 10 cocaine-dependent polydrug users with 99mTc-HMPAO SPECT 2 to 3 days after admission to an inpatient treatment facility and at 7 to 8 days and 17 to 29 days after abstinence from drugs. The patients also received buprenorphine, an opioid mixed agonist-antagonist, beginning 10 days after admission and continuing to the end of the study. Imaging began 10-15 min after injection of 99mTc-HMPAO (20 mCi) using an annular gamma camera system. MRI was performed during hospitalization using a 1.5 Tesla system. SPECT and MRI were merged and five axial SPECT slices centered at the level of the basal ganglia were selected for analysis. Activity ratios were derived for cortical regions relative to cerebellar activity and were corrected for linearity with respect to regional cerebral blood flow. The cortical regions were classified as abnormal (activity ratio < 0.6), borderline (0.6-0.72) and normal (> 0.72) based on the results of the first SPECT study. In abnormal zones, regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) increased 11.0% +/- 9.0% at 7 to 8 days and 23.8% +/- 9.4% at 17 to 29 days after initiation of treatment. The increase in rCBF was 4.8% +/- 7.1% (7 to 8 days) and 11.1% +/- 8.0% (17 to 29 days) in borderline cortex and decreased 2.9% +/- 6.3% (7 to 8 days) and increased only 2.7% +/- 13.4% (17 to 29 days) in normal cortex. The increase in rCBF did not vary significantly by location. The perfusion defects observed in chronic cocaine polydrug users are partially reversible with short-term abstinence and buprenorphine treatment.

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