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1.  Dopamine Transporter Imaging Using 99mTc-TRODAT-1 SPECT in Parkinson’s Disease 
Although the decrease in striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) density has been described in North American, European, and Asian Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients, studies on this issue are required in the rest of the world. This study examined the diagnostic utility of DAT imaging in Brazilian PD patients.
Twenty PD patients (13 males, 7 females, median age: 62 years, median age at disease onset: 56 years, median disease duration: 5 years, and median UPDRS-III score: 29) and 9 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects underwent single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) using 99mTc-TRODAT-1.
PD patients showed a significant decrease in the striatum, caudate nucleus, and putamen DAT densities compared with data from healthy subjects. Striatal 99mTc-TRODAT-1 bindings had the highest diagnostic accuracy compared to those estimates from caudate nucleus and putamen. For the diagnosis of PD, a striatal 99mTc-TRODAT-1 binding cut-off value of 0.90 was associated with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 89%. There was no significant difference between striatal 99mTc-TRODAT-1 binding values provided by different readers, contrary to 99mTc-TRODAT-1 binding estimates in the caudate nucleus.
Striatal DAT imaging using 99mTc-TRODAT-1 can be considered a marker for differentiating PD patients from healthy individuals, with a good interobserver reproducibility.
PMCID: PMC4138066  PMID: 25109468
Molecular Imaging; Parkinson Disease - radionuclide imaging; Tomography; Emission-Computed; Single-Photon
2.  Methadone in post-herpetic neuralgia: A pilot proof-of-concept study 
Clinics  2013;68(7):1057-1060.
This research was designed as a pilot proof-of-concept study to evaluate the use of low-dose methadone in post-herpetic neuralgia patients who remained refractory after first and second line post-herpetic neuralgia treatments and had indications for adding an opioid agent to their current drug regimens.
This cross-over study was double blind and placebo controlled. Ten opioid naïve post-herpetic neuralgia patients received either methadone (5 mg bid) or placebo for three weeks, followed by a 15-day washout period and a second three-week treatment with either methadone or placebo, accordingly. Clinical evaluations were performed four times (before and after each three-week treatment period). The evaluations included the visual analogue scale, verbal category scale, daily activities scale, McGill pain questionnaire, adverse events profile, and evoked pain assessment. All patients provided written informed consent before being included in the study. NCT01752699
Methadone, when compared to placebo, did not significantly affect the intensity of spontaneous pain, as measured by the visual analogue scale. The intensity of spontaneous pain was significantly decreased after the methadone treatment compared to placebo on the category verbal scale (50% improved after the methadone treatment, none after the placebo, p = 0.031). Evoked pain was reduced under methadone compared to placebo (50% improved after the methadone treatment, none after the placebo, p = 0.031). Allodynia reduction correlated with sleep improvement (r = 0.67, p = 0.030) during the methadone treatment. The side effects profile was similar between both treatments.
Methadone seems to be safe and efficacious in post-herpetic neuralgia. It should be tried as an adjunctive treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia in larger prospective studies.
PMCID: PMC3714859  PMID: 23917673
Post-Herpetic Neuralgia; Methadone; Neuropathic Pain
3.  Central poststroke pain: somatosensory abnormalities and the presence of associated myofascial pain syndrome 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:89.
Central post-stroke pain (CPSP) is a neuropathic pain syndrome associated with somatosensory abnormalities due to central nervous system lesion following a cerebrovascular insult. Post-stroke pain (PSP) refers to a broader range of clinical conditions leading to pain after stroke, but not restricted to CPSP, including other types of pain such as myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), painful shoulder, lumbar and dorsal pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and spasticity-related pain. Despite its recognition as part of the general PSP diagnostic possibilities, the prevalence of MPS has never been characterized in patients with CPSP patients. We performed a cross-sectional standardized clinical and radiological evaluation of patients with definite CPSP in order to assess the presence of other non-neuropathic pain syndromes, and in particular, the role of myofascial pain syndrome in these patients.
CPSP patients underwent a standardized sensory and motor neurological evaluation, and were classified according to stroke mechanism, neurological deficits, presence and profile of MPS. The Visual Analogic Scale (VAS), McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), and Beck Depression Scale (BDS) were filled out by all participants.
Forty CPSP patients were included. Thirty-six (90.0%) had one single ischemic stroke. Pain presented during the first three months after stroke in 75.0%. Median pain intensity was 10 (5 to 10). There was no difference in pain intensity among the different lesion site groups. Neuropathic pain was continuous-ongoing in 34 (85.0%) patients and intermittent in the remainder. Burning was the most common descriptor (70%). Main aggravating factors were contact to cold (62.5%). Thermo-sensory abnormalities were universal. MPS was diagnosed in 27 (67.5%) patients and was more common in the supratentorial extra-thalamic group (P <0.001). No significant differences were observed among the different stroke location groups and pain questionnaires and scales scores. Importantly, CPSP patients with and without MPS did not differ in pain intensity (VAS), MPQ or BDS scores.
The presence of MPS is not an exception after stroke and may present in association with CPSP as a common comorbid condition. Further studies are necessary to clarify the role of MPS in CPSP.
PMCID: PMC3475118  PMID: 22966989
4.  Psychometric validation of the Portuguese version of the Neuropathic Pain Symptoms Inventory 
It has been shown that different symptoms or symptom combinations of neuropathic pain (NeP) may correspond to different mechanistic backgrounds and respond differently to treatment. The Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI) is able to detect distinct clusters of symptoms (i.e. dimensions) with a putative common mechanistic background. The present study described the psychometric validation of the Portuguese version (PV) of the NPSI.
Patients were seen in two consecutive visits, three to four weeks apart. They were asked to: (i) rate their mean pain intensity in the last 24 hours on an 11-point (0-10) numerical scale; (ii) complete the PV-NPSI; (iii) provide the list of pain medications and doses currently in use. VAS and Global Impression of Change (GIC) were filled out in the second visit.
PV-NPSI underwent test-retest reliability, factor analysis, analysis of sensitivity to changes between both visits. The PV-NPSI was reliable in this setting, with a good intra-class correlation for all items. The factorial analysis showed that the PV-NPSI inventory assessed different components of neuropathic pain. Five different factors were found. The PV-NPSI was adequate to evaluate patients with neuropathic pain and to detect clusters of NeP symptoms.
The psychometric properties of the PV-NPSI rendered it adequate to evaluate patients with both central and peripheral neuropathic pain syndromes and to detect clusters of NeP symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3248854  PMID: 22128801
Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory; Portuguese language; neuropathic pain; pain assessment; questionnaire
5.  Chronic pain associated with the Chikungunya Fever: long lasting burden of an acute illness 
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is responsible for major epidemics worldwide. Autochthonous cases were recently reported in several European countries. Acute infection is thought to be monophasic. However reports on chronic pain related to CHIKV infection have been made. In particular, the fact that many of these patients do not respond well to usual analgesics suggests that the nature of chronic pain may be not only nociceptive but also neuropathic. Neuropathic pain syndromes require specific treatment and the identification of neuropathic characteristics (NC) in a pain syndrome is a major step towards pain control.
We carried out a cross-sectional study at the end of the major two-wave outbreak lasting 17 months in Réunion Island. We assessed pain in 106 patients seeking general practitioners with confirmed infection with the CHIK virus, and evaluated its impact on quality of life (QoL).
The mean intensity of pain on the visual-analogical scale (VAS) was 5.8 ± 2.1, and its mean duration was 89 ± 2 days. Fifty-six patients fulfilled the definition of chronic pain. Pain had NC in 18.9% according to the DN4 questionnaire. Conversely, about two thirds (65%) of patients with NC had chronic pain. The average pain intensity was similar between patients with or without NC (6.0 ± 1.7 vs 6.1 ± 2.0). However, the total score of the Short Form-McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ)(15.5 ± 5.2 vs 11.6 ± 5.2; p < 0.01) and both the affective (18.8 ± 6.2 vs 13.4 ± 6.7; p < 0.01) and sensory subscores (34.3 ± 10.7 vs 25.0 ± 9.9; p < 0.01) were significantly higher in patients with NC. The mean pain interference in life activities calculated from the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) was significantly higher in patients with chronic pain than in patients without it (6.8 ± 1.9 vs 5.9 ± 1.9, p < 0.05). This score was also significantly higher in patients with NC than in those without such a feature (7.2 ± 1.5 vs 6.1 ± 1.9, p < 0.05).
There exists a specific chronic pain condition associated to CHIKV. Pain with NC seems to be associated with more aggressive clinical picture, more intense impact in QoL and more challenging pharmacological treatment.
PMCID: PMC2833164  PMID: 20170492

Results 1-5 (5)