Computerized axial tomography in the detection of brain damage. 1. Alcohol, nutritional deficiency and drugs of addiction

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The severity and extent of cerebral atrophy was assessed on cranial computerized axial tomographic (CAT) scans in 240 alcoholics in whom this investigation had been performed for diagnostic purposes, and in a group of 59 male heavy social drinkers who were studied prospectively. Findings were compared with those in a group of 115 normal volunteers who were either total abstainers or light infrequent drinkers. Only 12 (5%) of the 240 alcoholics and 20 (33%) of the 59 social drinkers had a normal CAT scan. The remainder all showed a degree of cerebral and/or cerebellar atrophy in excess of that found in the normal subjects in a comparable age bracket. Atrophy was most frequent and most severe in the frontal lobes and superior vermis of the cerebellum, but, in most cases, there was more widespread cerebral and cerebellar cortical atrophy. The CAT scans of four patients with anorexia nervosa, two of whom showed an excessive degree of cerebral cortical atrophy for the patient's age, and of eight young people addicted to heroin, cannabis, lysergic acid or barbiturates, six of whom showed varying degrees of premature cerebral atrophy, were also studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-198
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes


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