Ventricular enlargement in poor-outcome schizophrenia.
BACKGROUND: A subset of patients with schizophrenia, defined on the basis of longitudinal deficits in self-care, may show a classic ("Kraepelinian") degenerative course. An independent validator of the phenomenologically defined Kraepelinian subtype might be provided by a structural indicator of possible brain degeneration: ventricular size as measured by computed tomography (CT). METHODS: To examine whether Kraepelinian patients would show a differential increase in ventricular size over time, two CT scans were conducted at intervals separated by > 4 years, an average of 5 years. Fifty-three male patients with DSM-III-R diagnoses of chronic schizophrenia were subdivided into Kraepelinian (n = 22; mean age = 42 +/- 6 years) and non-Kraepelinian (n = 31; mean age = 38 +/- 12.2 years) subgroups. Kraepelinian patients were defined on the basis of longitudinal criteria: > 5 years of complete dependence on others for life necessities and care, lack of employment, and sustained symptomatology. Thirteen normal elderly volunteers (mean age = 60 +/- 17.8) were also scanned at 4-year intervals. CT measurements were made by raters without knowledge of subgroup membership. A semiautomated computer program was used to trace the anterior horn, lateral ventricles, and temporal horns for each slice level on which they were clearly seen. RESULTS: The ventricles showed a bilateral increase in size over the 4-year interval in the Kraepelinian subgroup, more marked in the left hemisphere than the right. By contrast, neither the non-Kraepelinian subgroup nor the normal volunteers showed significant CT changes from scan 1 to scan 2. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, the longitudinal dysfunctions in self-care that characterize the Kraepelinian patients were associated with an independent indicator of brain abnormality.
Davis, KL; Buchsbaum, MS; Shihabuddin, L; Spiegel-Cohen, J; Metzger, M; Frecska, E; Keefe, RS; Powchik, P
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