News on Wellness

PET Scans Identifies Brain Activity with 93% Accuracy in Persistent Vegetative State Patients


A recent study conducted at University of Liege has reported that a high-tech scanner which is an expensive tool can be used to check if a person who is in a vegetative state will gain consciousness. This study was conducted among a group of comatose patients who were unresponsive, but had some consciousness.
This scanner could identify brain injury and suggest the potential of recovery. Considered a breakthrough it gives hope to both family as well as the doctors. Doctors will be able to understand clearly if a patient will return to consciousness and if it is the right decision to keep them alive.

Steve Laureys, head of this study and a professor at the University of Liege informed that PET imaging will be able to show cognitive processes of brain that are usually not visible in traditional tests. However, this should be used to complement regular tests done on all patients who have the potential of recovery in the future.

He further added that the common issues faced by doctors are the difficulty to identify the level of consciousness in comatose patients. They are left with the choice to differentiate them into Minimally Conscious State and Vegetative State or Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome. A person in Minimally Conscious State (MCS) will show some response to stimuli, whereas in the vegetative state, there is no response and there are low chances of recovery. Doctors use a tool called Coma Recovery Scale- Revised, which 40% of the time diagnosis wrongly.

According to the report two 3-D diagnostic tools were used for the test in which one was the Positron Emission Tomography Scanner (PET) that uses radioactive tracker in the bloodstream and maps the brain regions that are activated by stimuli. The tracker molecules get attached to glucose to show that the brain cells are working, if they work. The 2nd tool used is the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scanner which identifies the brain cells that consumes oxygen, showing activity.

The study conducted for over 4 years was reported after testing on 81 patients out of which 41 in MCS state and 41 in Vegetative State. Apart from this, it was also tested on 4 patients who had ‘locked-in’ syndrome, which means they were fully conscious, but could not respond and 39 healthy volunteers.

The results were outstanding as the PET scan showed 93% accuracy spotting the MCS patients and also helped identifying patients who have some cell response and chances of brain recovery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *