PET is proven to effectively identify Dementia

16 April 2012

With an expected high of over a million Dementia sufferers in the UK by the year 2021, a new report covering over 10 years of studies has revealed how a positron emission tomography (PET) can safely and effectively identify dementia, including the most typical form, Alzheimer’s disease.

Posted in the January 2012’s issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, ‘researchers reviewed many PET studies to assess a molecular imaging technique that combines PET, which provides functional images of biologic mechanisms, with an injected biomarker called 18F-FDG to target major areas of metabolic decrease in the brain indicating dementia’, thus providing clinicians with the ability to diagnose earlier and more accurately than ever before.

“Using 18F-FDG PET in the evaluation of patients with dementia can improve diagnostic accuracy and lead to earlier treatment and better patient care. The earlier we make a diagnosis, the more we can alleviate uncertainty and suffering for patients and their families", stated Nicolaas Bohnen, MD, PhD and Professor of radiology and neurology at the University of Michigan. He added “The review identified new literature showing the benefit of this imaging technique for not only helping to diagnose dementia but also for improving physician confidence when diagnosing a patient with dementia. This process can be difficult for physicians, especially when evaluating younger patients or those who have subtle signs of disease.”

The biomarker 18F-FDG is currently being studied for its effectiveness in Alzheimer’s imaging. As dementia treatments continue to develop and become available for clinical use, PET is expected to play a significant role in diagnosis of these diseases as well as the assessment and monitoring of future therapies.
The earliest Alzheimer symptoms include:
• Recent (or short term) memory loss.
• Confused about the month or season.
• Forgetting parts of their daily routine (e.g. brushing their teeth)
• Walking may become harder
• Trouble making decisions that once were easy
• Loss of interest in pastimes

Stage 2 of Alzheimer's disease can include symptoms such as:
• Problems accomplishing the chores of daily living
• Personal hygiene may no longer seem important
• Fail to recognize friends and relatives
• May become loud, violent, and hard to control.
• Trouble with sleeping
• Begin wandering off.
• May seem especially anxious, restless, and agitated in the late afternoon
• Find it hard to recall words or talk in normal sentences

Stage 3 of Alzheimer's disease can include:
• Loss of all memory and speech
• Decline in muscular control
• Extreme hostility
• Loss of control
• Aggression and destructiveness
• Loss of all ability to care for themselves

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