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Patients with psychiatric conditions are often referred for a brain scan during the course of their diagnostic workup.
The aim of our study is to determine frequency and type of organic brain pathology, the relationship to age, gender and psychiatric diagnosis.
We investigated magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography brain scans from consecutively referred patients over a 10-year period (January 2002-December 2011). The reasons for referral, estimated psychiatric diagnosis, and the pathology discovered for each patient were registered.
A total of 34% of patients demonstrated organic brain pathology, of which 32.8% were considered clinically relevant. This represents a higher frequency of relevant pathology than reported in healthy subjects. Age (P < 0.001) and diagnosis (P = 0.016) were the most important determinants for frequency of pathological findings.
Brain imaging in clinical psychiatry resulted in approximately 30% positive findings mainly associated with increasing pathologies with age, but also with diagnosis.
Declaration of interest
Both T.O.D. and M.K.B. have received honorary from Novartis for scientific lectures about multiple sclerosis. M.K.B. also received honoraria from Biogen for scientific lectures. The other authors have no conflicts of interest.