Functional Imaging for Interpretation of Pain Pathways: Current Clinical Application/Relevance and Future Initiatives
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- Clarke, C.F.M. & Lawrence, K.S. Curr Pain Headache Rep (2013) 17: 311. doi:10.1007/s11916-012-0311-x
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Functional imaging of the central nervous system has been utilized since the 1970s focusing on the concept that neural functioning is coupled to regional cerebral blood flow. This has allowed for extensive mapping of the neural pathways associated with pain, the “pain-matrix.” The study of the functional anatomy utilizes positron electron tomography and 2 magnetic resonance imaging techniques known as arterial spin labeling and blood oxygen dependent imaging. This area of study has greatly improved in recent years in being able to assist in the diagnosis of conditions and support in the creation of targeted therapies. The goal of this review is to educate the reader on the evolution of functional imaging and its application to the study of pain and furthermore to highlight the advances in this field that may allow for further clinical applications of this modality.