Regional brain perfusion in patients during alcohol-withdrawal has been relatively less studied with brain SPECT technique. In this study, the hypothesis that possible regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) alterations due to alcohol withdrawal might be transitory in a homogenous group of alcoholic patients in terms of their physical-nutritional and cognitive functional conditions was investigated.
Fifteen right-handed male inpatients with alcohol-withdrawal, diagnosed according to DSM-IIIR criteria, and 6 male physically-mentally healthy control subjects were included in the study. The first Technetium 99m-hexamethylpropyleneamineoxime (Tc-99m-HMPAO) brain SPECT investigation was performed on the day of admission in nonmedicated conditions and the second one was performed after all the withdrawal symptoms had subsided in the patients. As an indicator of the change in the brain perfusion, a relative perfusion index was used and the relative tracer activity was expressed as the ratio of mean cortical region of interest activity to mean the whole cortical brain activity.
We found significantly reduced left frontal and right frontal, parietal and temporal rCBF values in the patients during the alcohol-withdrawal compared to those of their remitted state while they were not different from in the control group (p < 0.05).
Our data indicate that the alterations in rCBF during the alcohol-withdrawal are more pronounced both in the frontal cortex and in overall right hemisphere regions. Furthermore, the frontal hypoperfusion may be transitory with recovery from alcohol-withdrawal whereas temporal hypoperfusion may continue after recovery probably depending on the previously administered high-dose benzodiazepines.