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Insular cortex involvement in migraine patients with chronic pain: A volumetric radiological and clinical study.

BACKGROUND: This study aimed to assess abnormalities in the insular cortex of individuals suffering from migraines and examine their associations with pain duration, medication usage, and clinical symptoms.

METHODS: We analyzed radiological data from 38 migraine patients who had undergone 3D iso T1-weighted brain MRI at our university hospital between 2019 and 2023. Structured questionnaires were used to collect information on participants' age, migraine type, disease duration, clinical symptoms, and medication use. Volumetric analysis was performed on the insular regions using Volbrain and 3DSlicer. The results were statistically analyzed.

RESULTS: Comparing groups with chronic pain to normal groups revealed significant differences in several insular regions, including the posterior insula (p = 0.034), parietal operculum (p = 0.04), and the entire insular cortex (p = 0.023). Further group comparisons (Group 1, 2, and 3) showed significant differences in specific insular regions. For instance, the anterior insula (p = 0.032) was associated with taste changes, the posterior insula (p = 0.010) with smell-related changes, and the central operculum (p = 0.046) with sensations of nausea. Additionally, significant changes were observed in the parietal operculum concerning nausea, photophobia, phonophobia, and changes in smell.

CONCLUSION: To the best of our knowledge, there have been no studies investigating the relationship between clinical manifestations and volumetric correlation. This study provides insights into abnormalities in the insular cortex among migraine patients and their potential relevance to pain duration, severity, and migraine type. The results suggest that understanding alterations in insular regions possibly linked to pain could contribute to the development of innovative approaches to managing chronic pain.

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