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Brain Scans to Spot Alzheimer's May Be Available This Year
Date:6/8/2011

ting thousands of dollars each in the United States. But they accurately diagnose Alzheimer's about 90 percent of the time, he said, compared with an 80 percent rate that physicians reach on their own. And, he said, the scans can detect Alzheimer's at an early stage.

Dr. James R. Burke, director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, wondered about the value of diagnosis via scanner.

"Would you scan all people over a certain age?" he asked. "What do you say to a cognitively normal individual with increased amyloid in his/her brain that you would not advise for the same person without amyloid? If we had a therapy that reduced amyloid and prevented cognitive decline, then an argument could be made for widespread use of these scans."

However, Burke said, the study of brain scans does have value now as a research tool.

The studies were scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, June 4 to 8 in San Antonio, Texas. Experts note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCES: James R. Burke, M.D., Ph.D., director, Memory Disorders Clinic, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; presentations, Society for Nuclear Medicine, annual meeting, San Antonio, Texas, June 4-8, 2011


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