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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Mar 2022 - 1 Apr 2022

2022 Mar 25

Sci Rep



No indications for altered EEG oscillatory activity in patients with chronic post-burn itch compared to healthy controls.


Millard SK, Bokelmann K, Schalbroeck R, van der Wee NJA, van Loey NEE, van Laarhoven AIM
Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 25; 12(1):5184.
PMID: 35338171.


A large proportion of patients with burn injuries develop chronic itch, which impacts quality of life. The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood. This cross-sectional pilot study investigates whether altered cortical oscillatory processes are involved in chronic post-burn itch. Continuous electroencephalography (EEG) data were recorded during rest and stimulation of non-injured skin, inducing itch (histamine and electrical) and cold-pressor task pain for 15 adults with chronic post-burn itch and 15 matched healthy controls. Quantitative metrics comprised oscillatory power and peak frequencies in theta, alpha, and beta bands. No statistical differences between patients and healthy controls were found in oscillatory activity during rest or stimulation, with Bayesian analysis suggesting equivocal evidence. However, post-traumatic stress symptoms and duration of chronic itch may be associated with changes in oscillatory activity. A lack of differences in cortical oscillatory processing and itch levels at non-injured sites, suggests that itch symptoms have a localised character in this sample of patients with post-burn itch. For future studies, a biopsychological approach with integration of peripheral and central nervous system techniques, linear and non-linear EEG analysis, injured and non-injured stimulation sites, and incorporation of individual characteristics is recommended. Insight into pathophysiological mechanisms underlying chronic post-burn itch could improve diagnostics and treatments.