Saturday, February 10, 2007

Can you do a brain scan to diagnose ADHD?

(Adapted from Making the Connection- A Parent's Guide to Medication in ADHD)

The field of psychiatry is always searching for a conclusive diagnostic test to aid physicians in diagnosing the various mental conditions. Unfortunately this test doesn't currently exist for any psychiatric illness and ADHD is not any different. Brain scans are used frequently in research studies. Research has shown that children with ADHD have smaller brain volumes in specific parts of the brain (frontal lobes, white matter, and cerbellum). These are only research studies and cannot and should not be used to diagnose ADHD in a specific child or teenager.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, do you feel like clinics (such as the A*** clinics_I am assuming you know to whom I am referring but don't want to drop names on your site) are using scans inappropriately? I only ask because his argument is very convincing, but before I put my son through this procedure (and the expense of it..which is worth it if valid) I am trying to gather views from different "experts"

Mohab Hanna, M.D. said...

I would love for our knowledge base to be at the point where we can do certain tests like brain scans to diagnose. Unfortunately we are not at that point. Most clinicians are skepticla of scans at this point. They are useful research tools, but not clinically especially not to direct specific treatment. Remember anyting you do has a risk. The question is does the potential benefit outweigh the risk. I am assuming you are thinking of doing the scan to clarify a certain diagnosis. The best diagnostic process is still a clinical evaluation. If your son's situation is complicated it is important to see someone who is an experienced child psychiatrist.

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Kathy R. said...

Not yet. At this point, researchers have identified certain neuronal pathways that tend to be abnormally active or inactive in individuals with ADHD, but there's not enough information yet to use it to make a diagnosis. For example, researchers have determined that patients with ADHD typically have abnormally high levels of dopamine in their brain, and that certain medications used to treat ADHD decrease dopamine activity to normal levels. However, this doesn't establish a causal link.
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