Scan Can Differentiate Alzheimer’s from Other Dementia

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PET brain scan of a normal brainCanadian neurologists in Quebec recently completed a research project to better diagnose types of dementia other than Alzheimer’s disease by utilizing brain scans.

This method allows for faster diagnosis of patients fitting that criteria and who make up about 20% of all dementia cases. Currently it can take up to five years before a correct diagnosis can be made for atypical dementia and having a faster diagnosis will allow quicker treatment that may limit the progression of the disease.

A timely and accurate diagnosis is also important as drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and those for other dementia causes are not the same and improper medication may actually worsen the disease.

To date, while only 10 patients have participated in the study, the results are reported to be very promising and the next stage will be to test 30 patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

The scan, ehich currently costs about $3000 to perform, can detect any accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which is a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Conversely, the absence of plates may mean that the person is suffering from another dementia that may be first noticed through the patient demonstrating a problem with speaking or a change in behavior.

 


Image: Wikimedia Commons

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