Brain Abnormalities In Gulf War Syndrome

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     In a clinical case control study performed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas a team of doctors led by James Fleckenstein, MD performed conventional MRI with HMPAO-SPECT and a MR Spectroscopy. Forty veterans participated in the study. 22 of these vets with Gulf War Syndrome, 18 well Gulf War Veterans, matched for age, sex and education were used as controls. By using MR Spectroscopy these doctors estimated the functional neuronal mass and found it to be lower in the basal ganglia and the brainstem in sick veterans. These finding support the hypothesis that the clusters of symptoms found in many Gulf War Veterans reflect a spectrum of neurological injury to the central peripheral and autonomic nervous systems. MR Spectroscopy, however is completely new technology. It is considered experimental medicine developed at Southwestern Medical Center. The technique was developed a team of 8 doctors led by Dr. Fleckenstein and appears to verify previous findings by Dr. Robert W. Haley. Haley's\'96 work has been published in the Jan. 15,1997 Journal of the AMA. That research isolated 3 distinct syndromes. The syndromes were considered to be

1- Impaired cognition
2- Confusion-ataxia
3- Arthro-myo-neuropathy

     These syndromes are described in detail in the aforesaid article in the JAMA. They are also peer-reviewed in the August,1997 issue of the JAMA. The magazines are available at the public libraries. The new research by the Fleckenstein team has been submitted and accepted for publication in Radiology Magazine, the monthly publication of the radiological society of North America. At the present time a publication date has not been set. This new research by the Fleckenstein's team further isolates the syndromes earlier developed by Dr. Haley's\'96 team. Fleckenstein's research indicates syndrome 1, impaired cognition, appears to effect the basal ganglia only. Syndrome 2. Confusion-ataxia, appears to effect both basal ganglia and the brainstem. Syndrome 3, Arthro-myo-neuropathy, appears only to effect the brainstem. Syndrome 2 appears to be the most debilitating. These subgroup findings parallel patterns of abnormal regional cerebral blood flow that were identified by HMPAO-SPECT. According to the assistant to Dr. Haley that I spoke with on 1-5-2000, the research at Southwestern Med. is government funded but is at least 18 months away from official approval. It is currently only available at Southwestern Med., and is restricted to veterans who have an existing diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Veterans with health problems must file claims prior to 12-31-2000. This is the VERY last date veterans can file claim under current law. If a claim is filed before that date and researched later and is approved to be service connected the benefits received will go back to the date of the original claim.
     Please contact your local Veterans Services Office to verify the above date. Anyone reading this update who knows where I can get a copy of the Fleckenstein article, please contact me so I too can get a copy.

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