Preservation of Brain Activity in Unresponsive Patients Identifies MCS Star

Aurore Thibaut*, Rajanikant Panda, Jitka Annen, Leandro R.D. Sanz, Lionel Naccache, Charlotte Martial, Camille Chatelle, Charlène Aubinet, Estelle A.C. Bonin, Alice Barra, Marie Michèle Briand, Benedetta Cecconi, Sarah Wannez, Johan Stender, Steven Laureys, Olivia Gosseries

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde
58 Citationer (Scopus)


Objective: Brain-injured patients who are unresponsive at the bedside (ie, vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome – VS/UWS) may present brain activity similar to patients in minimally conscious state (MCS). This peculiar condition has been termed “non-behavioural MCS” or “MCS*”. In the present study we aimed to investigate the proportion and underlying brain characteristics of patients in MCS*. Methods: Brain 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography (FDG-PET) was acquired on 135 brain-injured patients diagnosed in prolonged VS/UWS (n = 48) or MCS (n = 87). From an existing database, relative metabolic preservation in the fronto-parietal network (measured with standardized uptake value) was visually inspected by three experts. Patients with hypometabolism of the fronto-parietal network were labelled “VS/UWS”, while its (partial) preservation either confirmed the behavioural diagnosis of “MCS” or, in absence of behavioural signs of consciousness, suggested a diagnosis of “MCS*”. Clinical outcome at 1-year follow-up, functional connectivity, grey matter atrophy, and regional brain metabolic patterns were investigated in the three groups (VS/UWS, MCS* and MCS). Results: 67% of behavioural VS/UWS presented a partial preservation of brain metabolism (ie, MCS*). Compared to VS/UWS patients, MCS* patients demonstrated a better outcome, global functional connectivity and grey matter preservation more compatible with the diagnosis of MCS. MCS* patients presented lower brain metabolism mostly in the posterior brain regions compared to MCS patients. Interpretation: MCS* is a frequent phenomenon that is associated with better outcome and better brain preservation than the diagnosis of VS/UWS. Complementary exams should be provided to all unresponsive patients before taking medical decisions. ANN NEUROL 2021;90:89–100.

TidsskriftAnnals of Neurology
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)89-100
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2021


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