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Study finds chronic abnormal brain blood flow in Gulf War veterans
Date:9/12/2011

OAK BROOK, Ill. Blood flow abnormalities found in the brains of veterans with Gulf War illness have persisted 20 years after the war, and in some cases have gotten worse, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

"We confirmed that abnormal blood flow continued or worsened over the 11-year span since first being diagnosed, which indicates that the damage is ongoing and lasts long term," said principal investigator Robert W. Haley, M.D., chief of epidemiology in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "We also identified a special MRI procedure that better diagnoses and distinguishes between the three main types of Gulf War illness."

Gulf War illness is a poorly understood chronic condition associated with exposure to neurotoxic chemicals and nerve gas. It affects an estimated 25 percent of the 700,000 military personnel deployed to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' scientific advisory committee.

There are three main syndromes associated with Gulf War illness, producing a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, neuropathic pain, memory and concentration deficits, balance disturbances and depression.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for forming long-term memories and helping with spatial navigation. Many Gulf War illness neurological symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion, irritability and disorders in motion control suggest impairment of the hippocampus.

In 1998, Dr. Haley's research team published a study using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to assess hippocampal blood flow in veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. For the current study, the researchers used a novel technique called arterial spin labeled (ASL) MRI to assess hippocampal regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 13 control participants and 35 patients
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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