Background. Somatization is a clinical phenomenon characterized by multiple, medically unexplained somatic symptoms. The pathophysiology remains unknown. We aimed to test the hypothesis of a central nervous system dysfunction in the pathophysiology of this disorder.
Methods. We studied 10 female patients diagnosed as having somatization disorder or undifferentiated somatoform disorder with no current Axis I disorders according to DSM-IV. They were compared with 17 healthy female volunteers using brain [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose-PET with MRI reference.
Results. The patients had lower cerebral metabolism rates of glucose (P<0·05) in both caudate nuclei, left putamen and right precentral gyrus compared with healthy volunteers.
Conclusions. This is the first study to demonstrate changes in brain metabolism in somatizing women. The regional cerebral hypometabolism is probably associated with the pathophysiology of somatization.
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