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Regional Cerebral Blood Flow In Childhood Autism: A SPET Study With SPM Evaluation

L. Burroni, A. Orsi, L. Monti, Y. Hayek, R. Rocchi, A. Vattimo
Published 2008 · Medicine

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AimTo establish a link between rCBF assessed with 99mTc-ECD SPET and the clinical manifestation of the disease. MethodsWe performed the study on 11 patients (five girls and six boys; mean age 11.2 years) displaying autistic behaviour and we compared their data with that of an age-matched reference group of eight normal children. A quantitative analysis of rCBF was performed calculating a perfusion index (PI) and an asymmetry index (AI) in each lobe. Images were analysed with statistical parametric mapping software, following the spatial normalization of SPET images for a standard brain. ResultsA statistically significant (P=0.003) global reduction of CBF was found in the group of autistic children (PI=1.07±0.07) when compared with the reference group (PI=1.25±0.12). Moreover, a significant difference was also observed for the right-to-left asymmetry of hemispheric perfusion between the control group and autistic patients (P=0.0085) with a right prevalence greater in autistic (2.90±1.68) with respect to normal children (1.12±0.49). Our data show a significant decrease of global cerebral perfusion in autistic children in comparison with their normal counterparts and the existence of left-hemispheric dysfunction, especially in the temporo-parietal areas devoted to language and the comprehension of music and sounds. ConclusionWe suggest that these abnormal areas are related to the cognitive impairment observed in autistic children, such as language deficits, impairment of cognitive development and object representation, and abnormal perception and responses to sensory stimuli. 99mTc-ECD SPET seems to be sensitive in revealing brain blood flow alterations and left-to-right asymmetries, when neuroradiological patterns are normal.
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