PET-MRI Scan for Chronic Lower Back Pain

About the Study

The Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab is currently conducting a nationally-funded study to understand how chronic low back pain with or without opioid use affects the brain.

Study aim: The goal of this study is to understand how changes in brain activity and biochemistry contribute to chronic low back pain. We are also seeking to understand the differences between individuals who have low back pain who are taking opioid medications and those who are not. By understanding these differences, we hope inform precision medicine of the future for low back pain – tailored to the specific needs of individual patients.


The study will recruit these two cohorts:

1)     Individuals with chronic low back pain currently on stable doses of prescription opioids for 3 months or more;

2)     Individuals with chronic low back pain currently not on opioids or who have not taken opioids for the last 3 months.

General Eligibility Criteria

  • Male or female between the ages of 21 and 65
  • Have low back pain for more than 6 months and an average pain over the last month ≥ 3/10.
  • Capable of providing informed consent and following trial procedures.
  • No MRI-contraindicated implanted medical devices or large tattoos
  • No history of seizures or head injury
  • No psychotropic or cardiac medications
  • Not pregnant or planning to become pregnant

Study Overview

The study collects the following measures:

Brain scans: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) are well-established imaging tools to study brain structure, function and biochemistry. The one-time scan at the Stanford Lucas Center for imaging involves the participant lying on a bed inside of an MRI or combined PET-MRI scanner while pictures are taken of the participant’s brain to measure activity during rest and while playing a simple video game.

Sensory Tests:  Sensory tests will be conducted during a lab visit at the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab. The tests will be simple and involve things like placing a hand into cold water and telling the study team how much it hurts.

Cognitive Tests: Computerized cognitive tests will be administered remotely and during a lab visit at the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab. The tests will examine working memory, attention, reasoning, decision making, and social cognition.

Questionnaires: Questionnaires are be filled out at home and during the in-person visits at the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab. By using the data collected from the questionnaires, the study team can learn more about the brain, for example by seeing how certain answers to the questionnaires are related to brain activity in specific regions.

Visits: This study requires completing of a remote cognitive test (1 hour) and two in-person visits:

  • Visit 1 (3-4 hours) at the Stanford Richard M. Lucas Center for Imaging (1201 Welch Rd, Stanford, CA 94305) for a brain (PET/MRI) scan.
  • Visit 2 (3-4 hours) at the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab (1070 Arastradero Rd Suite 200, Palo Alto, CA 94304) for sensory and cognitive tests.
 

Payment: Study visits are AT NO COST, and you will be compensated for your participation with an Amazon e-gift card:

  • $125 for one remote cognitive test, one brain scan (PET/MRI), and one lab visit
  • Additional $10-$75 by playing money winning game during the brain scan
  • A free picture of your brain!

Frequently Asked Questions

After the scan, you will complete a post-scan survey. You can resume normal activities immediately.

Questions?

If you have additional questions, please contact the research coordinator below:

Caroline Huang
Email: 
chuang99@stanford.edu
Phone: (650) 736-1863

For questions regarding participant rights, contact 1-866-680-2906.

Questions?

If you have additional questions, please contact the research coordinator below:

Caroline Huang
Email:
chuang99@stanford.edu
Phone: (650) 736-1863

For questions regarding participant rights, contact
1-866-680-2906.