Amygdalar atrophy in panic disorder patients detected by volumetric magnetic resonance imaging.
It has been suggested that the pathophysiology of panic disorder (PD) may involve abnormalities in several brain structures, including the amygdala. To date, however, no study has used quantitative structural neuroimaging techniques to examine amygdalar anatomy in this disorder. Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of the amygdalas, hippocampi, and temporal lobes were conducted in 12 drug-free, symptomatic PD patients (six females and six males), and 12 case-matched healthy comparison subjects. Volumetric MRI data were normalized for brain size. PD patients were found to have smaller left-sided and right-sided amygdalar volumes than controls. No differences were found in either hippocampi or temporal lobes. These findings provide new evidence of changes in amygdalar structure in PD and warrant further anatomical and MRI brain studies of patients with this disorder.