PET shows patients in minimally conscious state may feel pain

Belgian scientists using oxygen-15-radiolabeled water PET and the application of noxious stimuli found that patients in a minimally conscious state exhibited more activity in the thalamus and other brain structures that make up the cortical pain matrix than patients in a persistent vegetative state. The findings are "strong evidence in favor of preserved perception of pain and hence should prompt clinicians to use painkillers even if patients cannot tell us they feel pain," a researcher said.

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