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Surgery for Treatable Dementia Might Also Help in Alzheimer's
Date:5/4/2010

ll not benefit from being shunted," Koga said. "In the future, we could use biomarkers to predict which patients with dementia will benefit from shunting and which will not."

Dr. Richard Byrne, chairman of neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center, called the study an "intuitive, intelligent way" of trying to determine how to figure out which patients would be helped by shunt.

Currently, differentiating the two is difficult, Byrne added. Neurologists and neurosurgeons rely on a combination of the patient's symptoms, physical exam, brain scans and draining fluid using a spinal tap to determine if patients show signs of improvement.

"Unfortunately, none of those are perfect tests," Byrne said. "This is a very difficult web to untangle, and they are trying to add some more diagnostic tools. They seem to be making some strides in figuring it out."

More information

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



SOURCES: Sebastian Koga, M.D., senior resident and surgeon, University of Virginia Health Science Center, Charlottesville, Va.; Richard Byrne, M.D., chairman, neurosurgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; May 4, 2010, presentation, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Philadelphia


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