Ventricular System - Role in Disease or Disorder

Role in Disease or Disorder

Diseases of the ventricular system include abnormal enlargement (hydrocephalus) and inflammation of the CSF spaces (meningitis, ventriculitis) caused by infection or introduction of blood following trauma or hemorrhage.

Interestingly, scientific study of CT scans of the ventricles in the late 1970s revolutionized the study of mental disorder. Researchers found that individuals with schizophrenia had (in terms of group averages) enlarged ventricles compared to healthy subjects. This became the first "evidence" that schizophrenia was biological in origin and led to a reinvigoration of the study of such conditions via modern scientific techniques. Whether the enlargement of the ventricles is a cause or a result of schizophrenia has not yet been ascertained, however. Still, this founding was not revolutionary at the time, as enlarged ventricles are found in various other types of organic dementia. In fact, ventricle volumes have been found to be "mainly explained by environmental factors" and to be extremely diverse between individuals, such that the percentage difference in group averages in schizophrenia studies (+16%) has been described as "not a very profound difference in the context of normal variation" (ranging from 25% to 350% of the mean average). Nowadays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has superseded the use of CT in research into the role of ventricular abnormalities in psychiatric illness.

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