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No specific tests are presently accepted for the exclusive diagnosis of schizophrenic disorders. Although some genetic mutations thought to be associated with the disease have been identified, they are not yet considered reliable diagnostic markers. Brain scans, including CT (computerized tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), may be used to rule out other potential neuropsychiatric disorders that may have symptoms similar to schizophrenia, but these scans are not presently accepted for the direct, specific diagnosis of schizophrenia.
However, certain physical brain abnormalities consistent with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have tentatively been identified by structural MRI studies.
Japanese researchers are among those pioneering methodologies capable of discriminating between normal healthy individuals and people with schizophrenia, using automated three-dimensional MRI brain imaging. Emerging data from these and other scientists’ investigations indicate that eventually it may be possible to diagnose schizophrenia based on MRI-identified decreases in gray matter volume and thinning of the cortex in certain regions of the brain (primarily the frontal cortex and the temporal cortex).
Some research has suggested that the volume of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s cortex may be increased among schizophrenia patients, as compared with healthy control subjects.
Written by: Dale Kiefer
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH
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