MRI may soon become an effective way to diagnose mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, according to new research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
In a landmark study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, Mt. Sinai medical experts were able to correctly distinguish bipolar patients from healthy individuals based on their brain scans alone. The findings suggest brain scans may soon offer an alternative to current mental illness diagnostic techniques that are highly subjective and based on symptoms.
"Bipolar disorder affects patients' ability to regulate their emotions successfully, which puts them at great disadvantage in their lives," said Sophia Frangou, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and chief of the psychosis research program at the Ichan School.
"The situation is made worse by unacceptably long delays, sometimes of up to 10 years, in making the correct diagnosis. Bipolar disorder may be easily misdiagnosed for other disorders, such as depression or schizophrenia. This is why bipolar disorder ranks among the top ten disorders causing significant disability worldwide."
Dr. Frangou and her team were able to accurate diagnose bipolar disorder with a 73 percent accuracy using MRIs to scan the brains of people with the condition and of healthy individuals.
"The level of accuracy we achieved is comparable to that of many other tests used in medicine," co-researcher Andy Simmons, M.D., of the Kings College London.
"Additionally, brain scanning is very acceptable to patients as most people consider it a routine diagnostic test."
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