Leveraging Neuroimaging for the Diagnosis of Psychiatric and Neurodegenerative Diseases

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A number of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases are associated with abnormal imaging findings, which can help psychiatrists reach a diagnosis.

The following article is part of conference coverage from the 2019 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting (APA 2019) in San Francisco, CA. Psychiatry Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in psychiatry. Check back for the latest news from APA 2019.

SAN FRANCISCO — A number of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases are associated with abnormal imaging findings, which can help psychiatrists reach a diagnosis, according to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting, held May 18-22, 2019, in San Francisco, California.

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The emerging field of psychoradiology applies medical imaging technology to the analysis of neurophysiology, mental health, and psychiatric conditions. Among the first neurostructural abnormalities associated with mental illness, was the identification in 1976 of bilateral ventricular enlargement in patients with schizophrenia using computed tomography. The use of neuroimaging in psychiatry has since grown, along with the number of structural abnormalities identified in mental illness. Presenters discussed structural imaging findings associated with a number of illnesses in an effort to educate psychiatrists on the clinical presentation, anatomic structures, and pathological imaging findings of selected neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. This knowledge can be used to help psychiatrists make diagnoses that may not otherwise be perceptible.

Topics discussed and original image reviews included clinical presentation, normal anatomy, imaging findings, prognosis, and treatment. Pathological imaging finding have been associated with a number of neurodegenerative conditions and dementia (eg, Alzheimer disease, Huntington disease, and HIV-related dementia), autoimmune disorders (eg, limbic encephalitis), infectious diseases (eg, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), metabolic disease (eg, Fahr’s disease), neurotoxicity (eg, from heroin and Wernicke encephalopathy), psychiatric conditions (eg, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, autism, frontal lobe syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia), genetic disorders (eg, tuberous sclerosis), and normal pressure hydrocephalus.

“An intuitive understanding of the most common imaging findings associated with various psychiatric diseases will help direct early imaging evaluation. The psychiatrist’s role as a consultant also necessitates that imaging findings be communicated in the most clinically relevant way to ensure effective early evaluation,” noted the research authors.

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Kansal S, Pothen N, Soloway A, Spaedy A, Anand N, Doumas S. Utility of neuroimaging in psychiatric and neurodegenerative disease: a primer with attention to structural imaging findings. Poster presented at: The 2019 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 18-22, 2019; San Francisco, CA. Abstract 88.

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