Chronic pain has been associated with alterations in brain connectivity, both within networks (regional) and between networks (cross-network connectivity). Functional connectivity (FC) data on chronic back pain are limited and based on heterogeneous pain populations. Patients with postsurgical persistent spinal pain syndrome (PSPS) type 2 are good candidates for spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy. We hypothesize that 1) FC magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) scans can be safely obtained in patients with PSPS type 2 with implanted therapeutic SCS devices and that 2) their cross-network connectivity patterns are altered and involve emotion and reward/aversion functions.
Materials and Methods
Resting-state (RS) fcMRI (rsfcMRI) scans were obtained from nine patients with PSPS type 2 implanted with therapeutic SCS systems and 13 age-matched controls. Seven RS networks were analyzed, including the striatum.
Cross-network FC sequences were safely obtained on a 3T MRI scanner in all nine patients with PSPS type 2 with implanted SCS systems. FC patterns involving emotion/reward brain circuitry were altered as compared with controls. Patients with a history of constant neuropathic pain, experiencing longer therapeutic effects of SCS, had fewer alterations in their connectivity patterns.
To our knowledge, this is the first report of altered cross-network FC involving emotion/reward brain circuitry in a homogeneous population of patients with chronic pain with fully implanted SCS systems, on a 3T MRI scanner. All rsfcMRI studies were safe and well tolerated by all nine patients, with no detectable effects on the implanted devices.
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Published online: May 16, 2023
Accepted: April 8, 2023
Received in revised form: March 23, 2023
Received: January 4, 2023
Publication stageIn Press Corrected Proof
Source(s) of financial support: The authors reported funding from the Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Conflict of Interest: The authors reported no conflict of interest.
© 2023 Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the International Neuromodulation Society.