Pain Group: Don't Use Neuroimaging to Confirm Chronic Pain — Physician’s First Watch
Pain Group: Don't Use Neuroimaging to Confirm Chronic Pain
By Kelly Young
Brain imaging should not be used to prove whether a patient has chronic pain, a presidential task force of the International Association for the Study of Painsays in Nature Reviews Neurology.
The group describes some of the problems with using imaging as a "lie detector" for chronic pain, including patient variability and the difficulty of inferring pain from a particular brain pattern.
They conclude: "Today, the necessary scientific knowledge — including the specificity and sensitivity of such tests — and validated protocols to enable use of brain imaging evidence in the legal system do not exist. Until they do, use of brain-based measurements that do not meet minimum standards would be detrimental to health care and legal systems, potentially harmful to patients and claimants, and legally inappropriate (and consequently unethical). In our view, current brain-based measures fall short of the requisite standards for legal proceedings, but we do encourage their use for understanding brain mechanisms that underlie pain, factors that lead to persistence of pain, and targets in the brain for safe and effective pain control."