Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

IMPORTANCE: Individuals presenting with first-episode psychosis (FEP) may have a secondary ("organic") etiology to their symptoms that can be identified using neuroimaging. Because failure to detect such cases at an early stage can have serious clinical consequences, it has been suggested that brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be mandatory for all patients presenting with FEP. However, this remains a controversial issue, partly because the prevalence of clinically relevant MRI abnormalities in this group is unclear. OBJECTIVE: To derive a meta-analytic estimate of the prevalence of clinically relevant neuroradiological abnormalities in FEP. DATA SOURCES: Electronic databases Ovid, MEDLINE, PubMed, Embase, PsychINFO, and Global Health were searched up to July 2021. References and citations of included articles and review articles were also searched. STUDY SELECTION: Magnetic resonance imaging studies of patients with FEP were included if they reported the frequency of intracranial radiological abnormalities. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Independent extraction was undertaken by 3 researchers and a random-effects meta-analysis of pooled proportions was calculated. Moderators were tested using subgroup and meta-regression analyses. Heterogeneity was evaluated using the I2 index. The robustness of results was evaluated using sensitivity analyses. Publication bias was assessed using funnel plots and Egger tests. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Proportion of patients with a clinically relevant radiological abnormality (defined as a change in clinical management or diagnosis); number of patients needed to scan to detect 1 such abnormality (number needed to assess [NNA]). RESULTS: Twelve independent studies (13 samples) comprising 1613 patients with FEP were included. Of these patients, 26.4% (95% CI, 16.3%-37.9%; NNA of 4) had an intracranial radiological abnormality, and 5.9% (95% CI, 3.2%-9.0%) had a clinically relevant abnormality, yielding an NNA of 18. There were high degrees of heterogeneity among the studies for these outcomes, 95% to 73%, respectively. The most common type of clinically relevant finding was white matter abnormalities, with a prevalence of 0.9% (95% CI, 0%-2.8%), followed by cysts, with a prevalence of 0.5% (95% CI, 0%-1.4%). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This systematic review and meta-analysis found that 5.9% of patients presenting with a first episode of psychosis had a clinically relevant finding on MRI. Because the consequences of not detecting these abnormalities can be serious, these findings support the use of MRI as part of the initial clinical assessment of all patients with FEP.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Psychiatry

Publication Date