3D Brain Scans May Increase Accuracy of ADHD Diagnosis

Researchers are hopeful that a new technique will help physicians diagnose ADHD by taking a close-up picture of the brain.
ADHD News Feed | posted by Janice Rodden

New research, published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, examined the use of three-dimensional brain imaging as a tool for diagnosing ADHD in place of typically two-dimensional scans. The researchers retrospectively analyzed the diagnosis of 427 patients, and compared the sensitivity for predicting ADHD. Their sensitivity rating was calculated based on the confidence interval of physicians regarding their “sureness” of the diagnosis, and the specificity of the brain scans.

The research found that 3D SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) imaging made it easier to achieve a definite ADHD diagnosis when compared to traditional 2D SPECT scans. 3D scans gave a sensitivity of 83% to predict ADHD diagnosis, while 2D scans gave a sensitivity of only 10%. The researchers determined this was because 3D renderings more visibly portrayed blood flow and activity levels in the brain, while requiring less skill from physicians to read and understand what they see. Additionally, the clarity of the images showed a stronger signal toward the patterns associated with ADHD.

Some clinicians use additional diagnostic tests—2D SPECT and quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG)—when they have trouble arriving at a definitive ADHD diagnosis from behavioral evaluations. Yet, the majority of ADHD experts found that these tools weren’t widely useful. The advances in 3D technology have made researchers hopeful that the clearer, more detailed picture of the brain will lead to more accurate, more certain diagnosis of this complex disorder.

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