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Minerva Endocrinologica 2008 June;33(2):75-84

language: English

Neurological and psychiatric disorders in thyroid dysfunctions. The role of nuclear medicine: SPECT and PET imaging

Lass P. 1, J. Slawek J. 2, Derejko M. 3, Rubello D. 4

1 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
2 Department of Neuropsychiatric Nursing, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
3 Institute of Neurology and Psychiatry, Warsaw, Poland
4 Department of Nuclear Medicine, PET Centre, S. Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Istituto Oncologico Veneto (IOV)-IRCCS, Rovigo, Italy


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Thyroid dysfunctions may be accompanied by numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders. The most known is cognitive impairment and depression in hypothyroid patients, as well as an increased risk of cerebrovascular accidents. A separate, although a rare entity, is Hashimoto’s encephalopathy. In hyperthyroidism there is an increased incidence of psychiatric disorders, including apathetic hyperthyroidism and hyperthyroid dementia. Functional imaging of cerebral blood flow and metabolism helped establish both global and/or regional decrease of both cerebral blood flow and metabolism in hypothyroidism, particularly in regions mediating attention, motor speed and visuospatial processing. Hypothy-roid dementia may be mediated by neurocircuitry different from that in major depression. Less is known on flow/metabolism changes in hyperthyroidism. Global blood flow may be slightly increased, with regional deficits of blood flow, particular in hyperthyroid dementia. As presented above radionuclide functional imaging showed some metabolic patterns in thyroid dysfunctions, but still many issues remain unresolved. In particular little is known about the underlying pathology of cognitive impairment and depression in hypothyroidism, which may differ from ones in euthyroid patients. Also little is known about the reversibility of changes in cerebral blood flow following thyroid replacement therapy. In hyperthyroid patients functional imaging might contribute to elucidate the background of apathetic hyperthyroidism and potential different background of psychiatric complications.

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