Use of PET/MR Imaging in Chronic Pain

  • End date
    Jan 31, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Stanford University
Updated on 29 January 2022
postoperative pain
chronic pain
pain disorder
back pain
cancer pain
nerve damage
Accepts healthy volunteers


The investigators are studying the ability of PET/MR imaging (using the PET tracer [18F]FDG) to objectively identify and characterize pain generators in patients suffering from chronic pain.


The diagnosis and management of chronic and neuropathic pain syndromes remains a major clinical challenge, and this failure is partly attributed to our inability to identify the hypersensitive and inflammatory changes in the pain-sensing part of our nervous system that is thought to contribute to these syndromes. The lack of a specific, objective diagnostic test for chronic and neuropathic pain syndromes can result in a delay of diagnosis and suboptimal management decisions. This delay in diagnosis is quite unfortunate since the early diagnosis and treatment of a disease is attributed to the highest probability of remission in certain chronic pain syndromes. Additionally, identifying the correct source of pain is of paramount importance since the clinical course and therapeutic interventions are different depending on cause.

Evidence in the literature points strongly toward an active inflammatory component in chronic pain. For example, soft tissue and bony inflammation is known to be an important pathophysiological mechanism for the symptoms of certain neuropathic pain syndromes. Similarly, individuals suffering from chronic sciatica or radiculopathy may suffer from a combination of inflammation and compression of lumbar or cervical spinal nerves. It is also established that inflammatory lesions have increased metabolism and energy requirements and, therefore, are more glucose-avid than normal tissues, showing increased uptake of radiolabeled glucose analogs, such as [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG). Correspondingly, [18F]FDG positron emission tomography-magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) represent leading FDA-approved clinical imaging modalities to longitudinally study metabolic changes in the nervous system and non-neural tissues (e.g., muscle, blood vessels, joints, bone, scar tissue, etc.) in patients with chronic pain conditions. One of the goals of the study is to determine whether [18F]FDG PET/MRI can identify sources of inflammation with greater sensitivity, accuracy and objectivity than current diagnostic methods.

Condition Chronic Pain
Treatment [18F]FDG, PET/MRI
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03195270
SponsorStanford University
Last Modified on29 January 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Age 18 years or older
Chronic pain lasting greater than 2 months. For example: Low back pain, sciatica, complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral nerve injury, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, osteoarthritis, cancer pain, persistent post-operative pain, and migraine
Provides informed consent
On a typical day, pain level of at least 4/10 on a 0-10 Comparative Pain Scale

Exclusion Criteria

Pregnant or nursing
Non-English speaker
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer  to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact


Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note