TORONTOA new study shows that the use of positron emission tomography (PET) scans may improve the accuracy of dementia diagnoses early in disease onset for more than one out of four patients. The results were presented at SNM's 56th Annual Meeting.
Early, accurate diagnosis of dementia is critical for providing the best available courses of treatment and therapies in the beginning stages of disease, when treatments can be most effective. PET scans enable physicians to identify the neurological conditions underlying each patient's mental decline and choose appropriate courses of treatment.
"Routine clinical assessments do not accurately identify the root causes of dementia in the early stages," said Kirk A. Frey, a physician with the University of Michigan Hospitals' Division of Nuclear Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our preliminary results clearly indicate that molecular imaging technologies, such as PET scans, can help diagnose a patient's specific type of dementia. This is critical for providing the best possible care. Additionally, PET's ability to pinpoint neurological underpinnings of different forms of dementia could lead to new, more targeted drugs and therapies."
More than 5 million people each year are newly diagnosed with dementia, a disease that takes many forms and includes memory loss or other mental impairments that interfere with daily life. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Other types include frontotemporal dementia, which affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, and Lewy body dementia, which involves degeneration of dopamine nerves in addition to the temporal and parietal lobes. Although these types of dementia have different causes, patients can express similar symptoms in the early stages, making accurate diagnosis difficult. Providing appropriate treatments and therapies as early as possible can avoid unnecessary, and sometimes severe, side-effects and complications
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Society of Nuclear Medicine