Technology-based assessment in patients with disorders of consciousness

Carol Di Perri, Lizette Heine, Enrico Amico, Andrea Soddu, Steven Laureys, Athena Demertzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A number of studies highlight the difficulty in forming a diagnosis for patients with disorders of consciousness when this is established merely on behavioral assessments.

Background: Positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and electroencephalography combined with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS-EEG) techniques are promoting the clinical characterization of this challenging population. With such technology-based "objective" tools, patients are also differentially able to follow simple commands and in some cases even communicate through modified brain activity. Consequently, the vegetative state and minimally conscious state have been revised and new nosologies have been proposed, namely the unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, the minimally conscious state plus and minus, and the functional locked-in syndrome.

Aim: To our mind, an integration of different technical modalities is important to gain a holistic vision of the underlying pathophysiology of disorders of consciousness in general and to promote single-patient medical management in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalAnnali dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanita
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Disorders of consciousness
  • Electroencephalography
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Minimally conscious state
  • Vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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