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BACKGROUND: Bilateral anterior cingulotomy is a palliative procedure occasionally used for cancer pain, and human studies suggest anterior cingulate cortex is active in dyspnoeic states. OBJECTIVES: A case of debilitating thoracic wall pain due to malignant mesothelioma relieved by bilateral anterior cingulotomy is described and changes in dyspnoea investigated. RESULTS: Improvements in pain, dyspnoea and the extent to which either symptom bothered the patient was seen for 2 months after surgery before disease progression led to death 5 months after surgery. Quality of life improvements were also seen for 2 months after surgery and pain relief was sustained from surgery to death. Arterial blood gas and lung function tests were unchanged by surgery, suggesting a reduction in pain and dyspnoea awareness by cingulotomy. CONCLUSIONS: Bilateral anterior cingulotomy effectively relieved both pain and dyspnoea. The role of the anterior cingulate cortex in pain and autonomic control of respiration is discussed alongside the evidence for this palliative procedure for cancer pain.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Neurosurg

Publication Date





471 - 474


cancer pain, cingulotomy, dyspnoea, lesion, mesothelioma, Aged, Dyspnea, Fatal Outcome, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Lung Neoplasms, Male, Mesothelioma, Pain, Pain Measurement, Quality of Life