fMRI - availablity/utility

Anthony R McIntosh mcintosh at bullwinkle.nia.nih.gov
Tue Oct 26 10:16:20 EST 1993

In article <CFGx04.F9E at umassd.edu>, rleary at UMASSD.EDU writes:
|> Is functional/fast MRI yet available as a diagnostic tool as is
|> a CAT scan? If one (or one's physician) wanted to have some fMRI studies/
|> images done on a patient, could this be arranged without great difficulty?
|> What about cost and waiting time? (I'm thinking about the Boston/New 
|> England area but would also be interested if services were available elsewhere 
|> - - e.g., Mayo Clinic, etc.) 

The technology is not yet adequately developed to really know what the
diagnostic utility would be.  I suspect it will be quite a few years before this
is the case.  Even with the far superior spatial resolution of current structural
MRI, it is not used as much as it should be, hence the costs are very high.
You are better off searching for a readily accessible MRI to measure structure
and/or PET scanner for function.  Both PET (depending on what isotope is used) and
structural MRI are much better than CAT for diagnosis.  Which method is used depends
on what is being looked at. If there is a functional change, PET is probably better,
but the accompanying MRI would be helpful to localize and determine if there is an
accompanying structural change.  The same goes for EEG or MEG, the added problem
with these techniques is localization of the source of the signal.

|>    Also - has physical evidence of brain damage attributable to drug abuse - 
|> cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, etc. - ever been demonstrated using imaging 
|> techniques?
|> .........
|> about a group of young people who literally blew their minds with some designer 
|> drug - and I believe there were pictures/images showing this type of damage 
|> in a real human brain.

I am not aware of any imaging studies that have conclusively shown brain damage
resulting from drug abuse, aside from severe alcoholism (Korsakoff's).   It has
been diffcult to distinguish between damage caused by drugs specifically and damage
that results from dietary deficiencies.  Korsakoff's a good example, where the
damage is a result of vitamin deficiency because of poor diet 
and not the alcohol consumption per se.
The example you presented were probably actual human tissue, not images, 
showing the destruction of cells in the substantia nigra from a
synthetic drug (MMPT??).


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