Nondermatomal somatosensory deficits in chronic pain are associated with cerebral grey matter changes

Riederer, Franz; Landmann, Gunther; Gantenbein, Andreas R; Stockinger, Lenka; Egloff, Niklaus; Sprott, Haiko; Schleinzer, Wolfgang; Pirrotta, Roberto; Dumat, Wolfgang; Luechinger, Roger; Baumgartner, Christoph; Kollias, Spyridon; Sándor, Peter S (2015). Nondermatomal somatosensory deficits in chronic pain are associated with cerebral grey matter changes. World journal of biological psychiatry, 18(3), pp. 227-238. Informa Healthcare 10.3109/15622975.2015.1073356

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Widespread sensory deficits occur in 20-40% of chronic pain patients on the side of pain, independent of pain aetiology, and are known as nondermatomal sensory deficits (NDSDs). NDSDs can occur in absence of central or peripheral nervous system lesions. We hypothesised that NDSDs were associated with cerebral grey matter changes in the sensory system and in pain processing regions, detectable with voxel-based morphometry.


Twenty-five patients with NDSDs, 23 patients without NDSDs ("pain-only"), and 29 healthy controls were studied with high resolution structural MRI of the brain. A comprehensive clinical and psychiatric evaluation based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was performed in all patients.


Patients with NDSDs and "pain-only" did not differ concerning demographic data and psychiatric diagnoses, although anxiety scores (HADS-A) were higher in patients with NDSDs. In patients with NDSDs, grey matter increases were found in the right primary sensory cortex, thalamus, and bilaterally in lateral temporal regions and the hippocampus/fusiform gyrus. "Pain-only" patients showed a bilateral grey matter increase in the posterior insula and less pronounced changes in sensorimotor cortex.


Dysfunctional sensory processing in patients with NDSDs is associated with complex changes in grey matter volume, involving the somatosensory system and temporal regions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology > Centre of Competence for Psychosomatic Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine > Centre of Competence for General Internal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Egloff, Niklaus


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Informa Healthcare




Annette Barbara Kocher

Date Deposited:

14 Mar 2016 11:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:52

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Nondermatomal somatosensory deficits; anxiety; chronic myofascial pain; conversion disorder; voxel-based morphometry




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