Quantifying the test-retest reliability of cerebral blood flow measurements in a clinical model of on-going post-surgical pain: A study using pseudo-continuous arterial spin labelling
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35 Citations (Scopus)
Arterial spin labelling (ASL) is increasingly being applied to study the cerebral response to pain in both experimental human models and patients with persistent pain. Despite its advantages, scanning time and reliability remain important issues in the clinical applicability of ASL. Here we present the test-retest analysis of concurrent pseudo-continuous ASL (pCASL) and visual analogue scale (VAS), in a clinical model of on-going pain following third molar extraction (TME). Using ICC performance measures, we were able to quantify the reliability of the post-surgical pain state and ΔCBF (change in CBF), both at the group and individual case level. Within-subject, the inter- and intra-session reliability of the post-surgical pain state was ranked good-to-excellent (ICC > 0.6) across both pCASL and VAS modalities. The parameter ΔCBF (change in CBF between pre- and post-surgical states) performed reliably (ICC > 0.4), provided that a single baseline condition (or the mean of more than one baseline) was used for subtraction. Between-subjects, the pCASL measurements in the post-surgical pain state and ΔCBF were both characterised as reliable (ICC > 0.4). However, the subjective VAS pain ratings demonstrated a significant contribution of pain state variability, which suggests diminished utility for interindividual comparisons. These analyses indicate that the pCASL imaging technique has considerable potential for the comparison of within- and between-subjects differences associated with pain-induced state changes and baseline differences in regional CBF. They also suggest that differences in baseline perfusion and functional lateralisation characteristics may play an important role in the overall reliability of the estimated changes in CBF. Repeated measures designs have the important advantage that they provide good reliability for comparing condition effects because all sources of variability between subjects are excluded from the experimental error. The ability to elicit reliable neural correlates of on-going pain using quantitative perfusion imaging may help support the conclusions derived from subjective self-report.