Echogenicity of the brainstem raphe in patients with major depression

Psychiatry Res. 1994 Jun;55(2):75-84. doi: 10.1016/0925-4927(94)90002-7.


A novel transcranial ultrasound technique was used to detect differences in the echogenicity and echotexture of the brainstem dorsal raphe nucleus in 20 patients with major depression compared with 20 age- and sex-matched healthy adults. Transcranial color-coded real-time sonography visualized the mesencephalic and pontine brainstem and its midline structure. The echogenicity of the raphe was classified in a four-point scale. Compared with healthy subjects, the depressed patients were characterized by a significant decrease in the echogenicity of the brainstem raphe. The echogenicity score was not correlated, however, with measures of psychopathology such as the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the Clinical Global Impression Scale, the Global Assessment Scale, or the Depression Scale of von Zerssen. These preliminary findings suggest that the brainstem raphe may be involved in the etiopathogenesis of major depression. The echogenicity score should be further evaluated as a possible trait marker in different types of affective disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnostic imaging*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Echoencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pons / diagnostic imaging
  • Raphe Nuclei / diagnostic imaging*
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial*