Epidemiological studies have provided evidence that neuropsychiatric symptoms are induced by long term exposure to solvents; individual diagnosis with psychometric tests, however, is not always possible (for example, when the patient has linguistic difficulties). Therefore evoked potentials and cerebral blood flow were studied in 50 patients occupationally exposed to solvents who were referred to our department and for whom a solvent induced psycho-organic syndrome was suspected. Degree of exposure was evaluated by its duration (mean 13.9, range 1 to 37 years) and its intensity (from an interview). At the group level, P22 and N35 latencies and amplitude N20-P22 of somatosensory evoked potentials were higher in cases than in controls (p < 0.05), whereas there was no difference for brainstem and visual evoked potentials, nor for hemispheric cerebral blood flow (but a higher distribution in the left occipital region was seen in patients, p < 0.05). Some parameters were linked to degree of exposure (amplitude N20-P22 of somatosensory evoked potentials, interpeak latency I-V of brainstem evoked potentials, distribution of cerebral blood flow in the internal frontal left region). At the individual level, these examinations were not of diagnostic value because sensitivity was low.
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