by Clas Linnman, Lieuwe Appel, Mats Fredrikson, Torsten Gordh, Anne Söderlund, Bengt Långström, Henry Engler
There are few diagnostic tools for chronic musculoskeletal pain as structural imaging methods seldom reveal pathological alterations. This is especially true for Whiplash Associated Disorder, for which physical signs of persistent injuries to the neck have yet to be established. Here, we sought to visualize inflammatory processes in the neck region by means Positron Emission Tomography using the tracer 11C-D-deprenyl, a potential marker for inflammation. Twenty-two patients with enduring pain after a rear impact car accident (Whiplash Associated Disorder grade II) and 14 healthy controls were investigated. Patients displayed significantly elevated tracer uptake in the neck, particularly in regions around the spineous process of the second cervical vertebra. This suggests that whiplash patients have signs of local persistent peripheral tissue inflammation, which may potentially serve as a diagnostic biomarker. The present investigation demonstrates that painful processes in the periphery can be objectively visualized and quantified with PET and that 11C-D-deprenyl is a promising tracer for these purposes.