Reversibility of brain tissue loss in anorexia nervosa assessed with a computerized Talairach 3-D proportional grid

Psychol Med. 1996 Mar;26(2):381-90. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700034772.


We describe the results of our follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of underweight patients with anorexia nervosa, using rigorous methodology to control for head position across time. All subjects first underwent an initial scan and rescan to verify that our computerized three-dimensional co-planar grid method for volume measurement was reliable and accurate, regardless of head positioning. After a period of several months, subjects had a follow-up scan to assess for changes that may have occurred following significant weight gain. Ventricular and total brain volume measurements from the initial scans were compared with the scans from an age- and sex-matched normal control group to determine whether we could replicate previous findings of ventricular enlargement compared with controls and whether brain volume is reduced compared with controls. Anorexic subjects had significantly larger ventricles when compared with normal controls but did not differ significantly in total brain volume. Using a repeated measures analysis of variance, a priori contrasts compared the initial/rescan pair volumes with each other and the initial/rescan pair volumes with the follow-up volume. These analyses showed that ventricular and total brain volumes derived from the initial/rescan pair were nearly identical, but that at follow-up ventricular volume decreased significantly and total brain volume increased significantly after weight gain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Atrophy
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Organ Size / physiology