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PET aids in decision support for pain treatment choices

A recent study of the normal brain activities using PET technique suggests that individuals who are in a minimally conscious state (MCS) have greater chances of perceiving pain and hence should receive analgesic treatment.

Senior author of the report Dr. Steven Laureys told Reuters Health that the major finding of this research was how these patients' brain responds to pain in a way that is very similar to the normal brains and how this is different from what is seen in Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) patients.

Dr. Laureys is a researcher at the University of Liege, Belgium, said that this research is the first to use PET to measure the brain's response against potentially painful stimuli in the MCS patients who, by normal methods, cannot communicate if such pain hurts.

The research, published in the October issue of “The Lancet Neurology” involved 5 patients in Minimally Conscious State , 15 in Persistent Vegetative State, and 15 in healthy state. The response of the brain to the bilateral electrical stimulation of a median nerve was measured during the study. The tool used to measure was Oxygen-15-Radiolabeled Water PET. In addition to this, a psychophysiological interaction analysis was also performed to evaluate functional connectivity.

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