PAIN Editorial written about Lawson Imaging Study
The understanding of the multiple neural components of pain – sensation, emotional and cognitive – has improved substantially by the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Despite this progress, a recent editorial in the journal Pain identified a major limitation with fMRI pain studies:
“There has always been an ‘elephant in the room’ when it comes to such studies in the pain field, particular those using fMRI …; they do not measure activity related to ongoing, background pain.”
Tracy I., John E. Pain 2010 Jan 15.
To overcome this problem, a team of Lawson researchers lead by Dr. St. Lawrence used an alternative MRI technique, referred to as arterial spin labelling (ASL), that directly measures blood flow in the brain. With this technique, they were able to show how neural activation evolves during the transition from acute pain to sustained pain. This paper is significant to the neuroimaging pain community because it removes the constraint of having to use artificially short, phasic pain models required by fMRI that do not represent typical pain reported in the clinic.
The primary author, Daron Owen, is a PhD student in the Lawson imaging program co-supervised by Drs. Frank Prato and Keith St. Lawrence. Dr. Collin Clarke is a resident in anaesthesiology supervised by Dr. Sugantha Ganapathy. The full citation is:
“Using perfusion MRI to measure the dynamic changes in neural activation associated with tonic muscular pain.” Owen DG, Clarke CF, Ganapathy S, Prato FS and St Lawrence KS. Pain 2009 Nov 13 [Epub ahead of print].
For more information, see the Arterial Spin Labelling Research Theme.