Signs of chronic fatigue syndrome are visible on MRI

Unrecognized Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has nothing to do with normal fatigue after a hard day..

This condition, according to patients, is accompanied by constant fatigue and fatigue, lack of motivation, “fog in the head”, and sometimes visual impairment and gastrointestinal disorders.

The condition does not improve after resting in bed and lasts at least 6 months.

Diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome is difficult because there are no special tests or biomarkers for it, but diagnostic criteria for CFS have long been approved in the United States. Researchers have now discovered that with chronic fatigue syndrome, most patients have structural abnormalities in the brain that can be detected using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diagnosed.

The study, published in the journal Radiology, was sponsored by Dr. Michael Zeineh of Stanford University School of Medicine, California.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1 million adult Americans suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Since no reliable test has yet been created to diagnose this condition, doctors should rule out one after the other possible diseases that may be behind constant patient fatigue.

“This is very difficult for patients, because for weeks a person with constant fatigue and impaired thinking is driven through many medical tests to determine the mysterious cause,” Dr. Zeineh explains the current situation..

In addition to severe fatigue, people with CFS have muscle pain, impaired memory, thinking and concentration, insomnia and severe weakness after exertion. In some cases, this condition does not go away for years, affecting the professional achievements and personal life of the patient.

Although researchers have not yet identified the exact cause of CFS, one theory suggests that this syndrome is caused by a combination of several factors: infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, immune system dysfunction, stress, and activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.

According to the Solve ME / CFS Initiative, chronic fatigue syndrome is 2-4 times more common among women, but it can affect a person of any gender, age, race, nationality and socio-economic group.

Unfortunately, even in the USA, less than 20% of patients with this condition are correctly diagnosed. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge about the syndrome and the lack of diagnostic tests.

MRI allows you to diagnose CFS with an accuracy of 80%

To further explore ways to diagnose this condition, a team of Dr. Zeineh and CFS expert Dr. Jose Montoya performed an MR scan of the brain of 15 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 14 healthy people of the same age and gender.

A few facts about chronic fatigue syndrome:

  • People with CFS constantly have lower labor productivity than before the disease.
  • Symptoms of CFS may include visual disturbances, dizziness, “head fog”, irritability, depression, gastrointestinal upset.
  • The victims of the CFS in the world are several million people, no one knows the exact numbers. In many countries, this diagnosis is not recognized at all..

Using three different techniques of magnetic resonance imaging, scientists compared the size of different areas of the brain, evaluated their integrity and ability to transmit signals, blood flow.

After analyzing the results, scientists came to the conclusion that people with CFS have a lower average volume of white matter in the brain compared with the control group.

In addition, in patients with CFS, the indicators of fractional anisotropy (FA) of the white matter of the brain in the right arcuate fasciculus are increased. The team states that these data suggest the development of characteristic changes in the white matter of the right hemisphere in CFS.

Dr. Zeineh commented on the results of the study as follows: “Inside the brain of patients with CFS, the degree of change in fractional anisotropy of white matter correlates with the severity of the disease. The higher the FA, the more severe the syndrome. ”.

Moreover, the researchers found two specific abnormalities in areas of the brain that are associated with arcuate fasciculus. These two zones in patients with CFS were thickened.

Although this study was limited - the sample was only 15 patients with CFS - Dr. Zeineh believes that the new technique is "extremely promising" and allows you to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome with 80% accuracy.

The next step for scientists is to repeat their research on a larger group of participants and try to uncover the relationship between the identified local abnormalities in the brain and chronic fatigue syndrome.

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