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PET scan distinguishes Alzheimer's from other dementia
Date:11/1/2007

the National Institute on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Fosters work involving patients from several NIA-sponsored Alzheimers Disease Centers advances the use of PET imaging as a clinical tool, said Creighton Phelps, Ph.D., program director of the Alzheimer Disease Centers at the National Institute on Aging. Combined with the patients medical history and psychometric testing, it enhances a physicians ability to more accurately distinguish between FTD and early-onset AD.

As the U.S. population ages, the number of people with dementia is projected to increase markedly, with Utah and the Intermountain West expected to experience the fastest rate of growth. Although FDG-PET is widely available, it is not often used in dementia, because of insurance concerns. Medicare recently agreed to pay for FDG-PET scans to evaluate dementia, but currently many insurance companies in the Intermountain West and Utah do not. Foster is working to make FDG-PET scans available to those who need them and results of this study prove they sometimes are worth doing.

This study shows FDG-PET is a reliable and valid diagnostic test that can aid physicians in making the sometimes difficult clinical distinction between AD (Alzheimers disease) and FTD, Foster and his co-authors wrote. But PET scans alone are not enough to confirm FTD or Alzheimers. A careful consideration of the medical history and examination will continue to be essential to dementia evaluation.

The study has appeared online in the journal Brain.

Foster and his colleagues examined the medical records and FDG-PET scans of 45 patients who later had autopsies. Microscopic examination found 31 had Alzheimers and 14 had FTD. The researchers summarized the clinical course of the disease in each patient. The expert neurologists at the NIH centers, who had 10 years to 25 years of experience, then were asked to decide what caused each patients dementia using clinica
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Contact: Phil Sahm
phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences Center
Source:Eurekalert

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