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ADHD Brain Scan: Is it Necessary to Diagnose?
Is a brain scan, such as a computed axial tomography (CT or CAT scan) or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), necessary for an accurate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) diagnosis in children or adults?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is not a structural problem in the brain. It’s primarily a chemical problem. There are certainly some structural differences that brain imaging shows -- this part of the brain is a little smaller than normal and that part is a bit bigger. However, brain imaging is a snapshot of the brain’s structure that is taken in a fraction of a second and tells you nothing about whether a patient has ADD/ADHD. That’s why you need to ask questions about how the patient functions in a variety of situations at various times of the day, under different circumstances.
More Info on Diagnosing ADD/ADHD
Note: ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information. While comments are appreciated, due to the high volume of inquiries we receive, there is no guarantee that either ADDitude or the expert will respond to follow-up questions.
Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, and associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. He is author of the new book Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD.