Structural Integrity

28 01 2011

If you’ve been a fan of my blog you’ll possibly have read my theory on Bipolar, currently under the ‘Bipolar? What’s That?’ heading. One thing that has always made sense to me is the thought of there being a structural reason for things. Of course proving this is quite difficult as the main way to examine structural differences between those with Bipolar and those without was to wait till someone with a diagnosis died and left their body to science.

With all the advances there are in medical science it did surprise me that there wasn’t another way to look at things. Naturally if one person thinks it then someone else is bound to and it takes only one person to actually do something about it to make stuff happen. So a joint project between West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Sichuan in China and the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK has used something called Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) to look at grey matter within subjects with Bipolar Disorder Type I and compare it to those without. If you wish to look at the report it can be accessed by clicking here.

What does this mean? That there is an interesting possibility that there is significant difference between the actual structure of those with Bipolar over those without. However, the report itself is quite small scale and doesn’t answer some serious questions. These are;


  1. Are the same things observed in those with other forms of Bipolar Disorder?
  2. Is there potential to use this as a way to confirm a diagnosis?
  3. Could it be used to differentiate between seperate psychiatric conditions?
  4. Is it possible to see what comes first, the first proper known episode of Bipolar Disorder or the brain structure difference?

These questions are only the tip of the iceberg, there’s a lot more that could be seen from this VBM technique, as well as other things such as fMRI. What does this really mean? There’s no magic pill due but the understanding about Bipolar should begin to move from the murky world of theories into the realm of verifiable fact. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, within the next five years there should be some very major advances which should seem major improvements in both diagnosis and treatment.

Can’t come soon enough!




2 responses

29 01 2011
Rachael Black

Interesting and I hope you’re right about the potential in the upcoming five years. god knows those of us with this condition are tired of the different cocktails, differing medical opinions -both scientific and procedural-.
Any time I read a new take on bi polar theory it pulls me in. Glad I found your blog.

29 01 2011

Thankyou Rachel, glad it appealed to you. My thoughts on the five years is that hopefully someone takes seriously the potential savings given by using the information given. Given a direct and known diagnosis you could avoid mistakes, second guesses and continued messing about in general, hopefully preventing people from ending up in hospital, a damn sight more expensive than a scan.

If someone were to start about now then it would be theoretically possible to get such a system introduced and have a pilot program rolling etc within five years. Certainly something to consider… got me thinking now.

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