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Psychiatry Res. 2004 Jan 15;130(1):57-70.

Cerebral ventricular change over the first 10 years after the onset of schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, New York University and The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Building 35, 140 Old Orangeburg Road, Orangeburg, NY 10962, USA.


Whether the brain structural abnormalities seen in schizophrenia are progressive is controversial. We previously reported on a longitudinal study of 50 first-episode patients with schizophrenia and 20 controls who had serial MRI scans during the first 5 years of illness. Greater enlargement of lateral ventricles and reduction of hemispheric volume was observed over time in the patients compared with controls. The present study obtained MRI scans from 26 of these patients and 10 controls at a follow-up 10 years subsequent to their first evaluations. The initial, 4-5th and 10th year scans were examined for the degree of change in ventricular and hemispheric volume. Significantly greater ventricular enlargement during the second 5 years was detected in the patient cohort compared with controls (P<0.05) with nine of the patients having ventricular enlargement (as measured by percent change) occurring at a rate exceeding that of any of the controls from years 1 through 10. The rate of ventricular change during the first 5 years was significantly correlated with age at first hospitalization, and ventricular enlargement in years 5-10 was correlated with the amount of time spent in hospital. Paradoxically, greater change in ventricles over time was correlated with better, not worse, outcome at the 10th year of follow-up with regard to the presence of symptoms. These data suggest heterogeneity in the course of brain change whereby some patients may exhibit active structural brain change only early in their illness or not at all after their first episode, while others continue to exhibit ventricular change spanning the decade subsequent to their first episode. Despite these differences among patients, the present study fails to detect any relationship of ventricular enlargement to poorer outcome as has been reported by other investigators.

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