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PeerJ. 2016 May 26;4:e2069. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2069. eCollection 2016.

Retrospective study on structural neuroimaging in first-episode psychosis.

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First-Episode Psychosis Program, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Vila Franca de Xira, Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal; Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.
Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Vila Franca de Xira , Vila Franca de Xira , Portugal.
Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Vila Franca de Xira, Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal; CEDOC, Chronic Diseases Research Centre, Nova Medical School, Lisbon, Portugal.



No consensus between guidelines exists regarding neuroimaging in first-episode psychosis. The purpose of this study is to assess anomalies found in structural neuroimaging exams (brain computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) in the initial medical work-up of patients presenting first-episode psychosis.


The study subjects were 32 patients aged 18-48 years (mean age: 29.6 years), consecutively admitted with first-episode psychosis diagnosis. Socio-demographic and clinical data and neuroimaging exams (CT and MRI) were retrospectively studied. Diagnostic assessments were made using the Operational Criteria Checklist +. Neuroimaging images (CT and MRI) and respective reports were analysed by an experienced consultant psychiatrist.


None of the patients had abnormalities in neuroimaging exams responsible for psychotic symptoms. Thirty-seven percent of patients had incidental brain findings not causally related to the psychosis (brain atrophy, arachnoid cyst, asymmetric lateral ventricles, dilated lateral ventricles, plagiocephaly and falx cerebri calcification). No further medical referral was needed for any of these patients. No significant differences regarding gender, age, diagnosis, duration of untreated psychosis, in-stay and cannabis use were found between patients who had neuroimaging abnormalities versus those without.


This study suggests that structural neuroimaging exams reveal scarce abnormalities in young patients with first-episode psychosis. Structural neuroimaging is especially useful in first-episode psychosis patients with neurological symptoms, atypical clinical picture and old age.


Brain computed tomography; First-episode psychosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neuroimaging

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