Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is the common term for a group of serious psychiatric conditions called the schizophrenic disorders. Although they strike only about one percent of the population, these disorders are so disabling they are considered among the most important of psychiatric illnesses. Schizophrenic disorders are generally characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Experts have struggled to agree on precise definitions and terms for the various disorders, but most concur that the schizophrenic disorders may be broadly assigned to one of two categories—good prognosis and poor prognosis. Good prognosis cases are believed to be somewhat more common than poor prognosis cases. Good prognosis (expected outcome) forms of the disease are as follows: schizophreniformacute schizophreniareactive schizophreniaschizoaffective disorderremitting schizophreniaConditions with poor prognosis are as follows: schizophreniachronic schizophreniaprocess schizophrenianuclear schizophrenianonremitting schizophreniaCommon SymptomsMost forms of schizophrenia are marked by at least intermittent episodes of hallucinations and delusions, despite the absence of any gross physical defects in the relevant sensory apparatus. Auditory hallucinations (hearing voices, for example) tend to be the most common, although visual hallucinations are also common. Less frequently, patients suffer olfactory hallucinations (usually consisting of unpleasant smells) and even imaginary tactile sensations (insects crawling on or under the skin is a classic example). Mood changes and other affective symptoms—such as inability to sleep, weight loss, loss of appetite (anorexia), suicidal thoughts and depression—may also appear during the course of the illness.  Other symptoms may include odd or inappropriate or bizarre behavior, an inability to make logical associations among ideas, and episodes of paranoia. Physical behavior may devolve into a dysfunctional state known as catatonia. Although this is often portrayed in the media as a sort of waking coma, catatonia may involve episodes of great excitement or profound confusion and usually entails muscle rigidity and apparent stupor. Who’s at Risk?Men are more likely to be stricken at an earlier age—often in early adulthood—than women, and male patients’ prognoses tend to be worse. It is apparent that there is a genetic component in some cases, amounting to a greater predisposition among some individuals from families with a history of the disorder. But it is still unknown who will succumb to the disease or precisely what might trigger it. Treatment OptionsTreatments have included electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes called “shock treatment,” and, beginning in the mid-20th century, tranquilizing antipsychotic medications, such as the phenothiazines (e.g. Thorazine) and more recently, a new generation of medications (known as atypical antipsychotics; e.g. Geodon, Zyprexa), which tend to have fewer side effects than older medications.

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Bone Scan

A bone scan is an imaging test that safely uses a very small amount of radioactive dye to help diagnose problems with your bones. This test reveals problems with bone metabolism. The normal process of bone metabolism includes how bones are broken down and how they rebuild themselves. Bone metabolism also involves the bone’s response to fractures, infections, bone cancer, and cancer that has spread to the bone from other areas of the body (metastatic cancer). Your bones are living organs. Bones provide structure for the body and protect the organs of the body. The bones of the body can be injured or broken and new bone formation is part of the healing process. Some bones (mainly flat ones) house bone marrow. Bone marrow is the spongy material that is responsible for the production of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body, white blood cells help the body fight infections, and platelets assist in blood clotting. The bone scan is a good method of viewing and documenting abnormal metabolic activity in the bony structure of the body. During your bone scan, a radioactive dye will be injected and then monitored for several hours under a special camera. Don’t worry though—the amount of radiation used in the dye is very small and nearly all of it is released from the body within two to three days.

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