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There is no consensus as to whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be used as part of the initial clinical evaluation of patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP).
(a) To assess the logistical feasibility of routine MRI; (b) to define the clinical significance of radiological abnormalities in patients with FEP.
Radiological reports from MRI scans of two FEP samples were reviewed; one comprised 108 patients and 98 healthy controls recruited to a research study and the other comprised 241 patients scanned at initial clinical presentation plus 66 healthy controls.
In the great majority of patients, MRI was logistically feasible. Radiological abnormalities were reported in 6% of the research sample and in 15% of the clinical sample (odds ratio (OR) = 3.1, 95% CI 1.26–7.57, χ2(1) = 6.63, P = 0.01). None of the findings necessitated a change in clinical management.
Rates of neuroradiological abnormalities in FEP are likely to be underestimated in research samples that often exclude patients with organic abnormalities. However, the majority of findings do not require intervention.
Group-level results suggest that relative to healthy controls (HCs), ultra-high-risk (UHR) and first-episode psychosis (FEP) subjects show alterations in neuroanatomy, neurofunction and cognition that may be mediated genetically. It is unclear, however, whether these groups can be differentiated at single-subject level, for instance using the machine learning analysis support vector machine (SVM). Here, we used a multimodal approach to examine the ability of structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI), functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion tensor neuroimaging (DTI), genetic and cognitive data to differentiate between UHR, FEP and HC subjects at the single-subject level using SVM.
Three age- and gender-matched SVM paired comparison groups were created comprising 19, 19 and 15 subject pairs for FEP versus HC, UHR versus HC and FEP versus UHR, respectively. Genetic, sMRI, DTI, fMRI and cognitive data were obtained for each participant and the ability of each to discriminate subjects at the individual level in conjunction with SVM was tested.
Successful classification accuracies (p < 0.05) comprised FEP versus HC (genotype, 67.86%; DTI, 65.79%; fMRI, 65.79% and 68.42%; cognitive data, 73.69%), UHR versus HC (sMRI, 68.42%; DTI, 65.79%), and FEP versus UHR (sMRI, 76.67%; fMRI, 73.33%; cognitive data, 66.67%).
The results suggest that FEP subjects are identifiable at the individual level using a range of biological and cognitive measures. Comparatively, only sMRI and DTI allowed discrimination of UHR from HC subjects. For the first time FEP and UHR subjects have been shown to be directly differentiable at the single-subject level using cognitive, sMRI and fMRI data. Preliminarily, the results support clinical development of SVM to help inform identification of FEP and UHR subjects, though future work is needed to provide enhanced levels of accuracy.
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