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Can Brain Imaging Help with Mental Illness?

New research suggests that single photon emission computed tomography, SPECT, brain imaging can actually aid in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The studies conducted by Dr. Daniel Amen have been analyzed in two stages, with only one of them employing SPECT imaging. According to statistics gathered by the studies SPECT imaging may very well alter the course of diagnosis and treatment plans.


The studies were conducted in groups of no more than 110 patients with an age range of 18 to 87. According to an article on the most common diagnoses were the following:


Anxiety (90.8%; n = 99)

Mood disorders (69.7%; n = 76)

Substance abuse (64.2%; n = 70)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (53.2%; n = 58)

Head injury (35.7%; n = 39)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (15.5%; n = 17)

Dementia of any type (10.0%; n = 11)

Schizophrenia (3.6%; n = 4)

Epilepsy (1.8%; n = 2)


While the studies on behalf of SPECT imaging take into consideration a limited number of patients, they seem to be very promising. SPECT imaging is by no means a new technology but the possible diagnosis of mental illness is certainly a new way to use it. SPECT imaging is used for the purpose of diagnosing epilepsy, dementia, and many other illnesses. There are notes of caution in terms of using SPECT imaging for diagnosing of mental illness.


The positive side of this is the fact that steps are being taken to go beyond tools already in use as a way to treat what may be more complex cases. Only time can truly tell if SPECT imaging will become a standard procedure in Psychiatry


If you have any questions about imaging procedures in general feel free to contact us anytime.


Bobby Serros
President and CEO




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