Objective: To investigate whether patients with first-episode psychosis or chronic schizophrenia have an increased incidence of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain abnormalities compared with control subjects.
Method: Totally 340 clinical MRI reports [Controls (n=98), first-episode psychoses (n=152), chronic schizophrenia (n=90)] were reported by a neuroradiologist blind to diagnosis and subsequently categorized using referral criteria (immediate, urgent, routine or no referral).
Results: Thirty percent of all scans were reported by a neuroradiologist as abnormal, but the majority required no referral. Patients with chronic schizophrenia were more likely to have clinically significant abnormal scans than patients with first episode psychosis or control subjects. In four patients the MRI findings led to the discovery of previously unsuspected pathology.
Conclusion: Patients with chronic schizophrenia have an increased prevalence of incidental brain abnormalities. A small proportion of patients with chronic schizophrenia and first-episode psychosis benefitted directly from MRI scanning.