The binding of [11C]diprenorphine to μ, K, and subsites in cortical and subcortical structures was measured by positron emission tomography in vivo in six patients before and after surgical relief of trigeminal neuralgia pain. The volume of distribution of [11C]diprenorphine binding was significantly increased after thermocoagulation of the relevant trigeminal division in the following areas: prefrontal, insular, perigenual, mid- cingulate and inferior parietal cortices, basal ganglia, and thalamus bilaterally. In addition to the pain relief associated with the surgical procedure, there also was an improvement in anxiety and depression scores. In the context of other studies, these changes in binding most likely resulted from the change in the pain state. The results suggest an increased occupancy by endogenous opioid peptides during trigeminal pain but cannot exclude coexistent down-regulation of binding sites.
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