Brain perfusion abnormalities are linked to disease severity in patients with fibromyalgia, according to the findings of a recent molecular imaging study.

To investigate, 20 subjects with fibromyalgia and 10 healthy controls underwent whole-brain scans using single-photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT). The analysis included regional cerebral blood flow and various parameters related to pain, disability, anxiety and depression status.

The researchers report that bilateral hyperperfusion of the parietal cortex and of the pre- and postcentral cortices are strongly correlated with the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire score. Hypoperfusion of the left anterior temporal cortex was also strongly correlated in patients with disease.

Whilst describing significant abnormalities in brain perfusion compared with healthy subjects, the authors note that future research is needed to determine whether their observations are specific to fibromyalgia (in comparison with other painful diseases).

The authors comment, “This study demonstrates that these patients exhibit modifications of brain perfusion not found in healthy subjects and reinforces the idea that fibromyalgia is a real disorder.”

Reference Guedj, E. Cammilleri, S. Niboyet, J. et al. 2008, ‘Clinical Correlate of Brain SPECT Perfusion Abnormalities in Fibromyalgia ’ Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Vol. 49, pp. 1798-1803.