Anesthetic block of pain-related cortical activity in patients with peripheral nerve injury measured by magnetoencephalography.

P.J. Theuvenet, J.C. de Munck, M.J. Peters, J.M. van Ree, F.H. Lopes da Silva, A.C.N. Chen

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This study examined whether chronic neuropathic pain, modulated by a local anesthetic block, is associated with cortical magnetic field changes.

In a group of 20 patients with pain caused by unilateral traumatic peripheral nerve injury, a local block with lidocaine 1% was administered and the cortical effects were measured and compared with a control group. The global field power (GFP), describing distribution of cortical activation after median and ulnar nerve stimulation, was plotted and calculated. The effects on the affected hemisphere and the unaffected hemisphere (UH) before and after a block of the injured nerve were statistically evaluated.

Major differences based on the GFP curves, at a component between 50 ms - 90 ms (M70), were found in patients: in the affected hemisphere the M70 GFP peak values were statistically significantly larger in comparison with the UH, and the GFP curves differed morphologically. Interestingly, the mean UH responses were reduced in comparison with the control group, a finding suggesting that the UH is also part of the cortical changes. At M70, the GFP curves and values in the affected hemisphere were modulated by a local block of the median or the ulnar nerve. The most likely location of cortical adaptation is in the primary somatosensory cortex.

Cortical activation is enhanced in the affected hemisphere compared with the UH and is modulated by a local block. The UH in neuropathic pain changes as well. Evoked fields may offer an opportunity to monitor the effectiveness of treatments of neuropathic pain in humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-386
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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