Tuesday, April 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) – Brain brains can improve the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, a new study says.
The researchers evaluated the use of positron emission tomography (PET) to identify Alzheimer's related amyloid plaques in the brain. The study included more than 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries with mild mental disabilities or dementia of uncertain cause.
This screening technique altered the diagnosis of the cause of mental impairment in more than a third of the study participants.
The results of the brain exam also changed management – including drug use and counseling – in almost two-thirds of cases, according to the study published on April 2 Journal of the American Medical Association.
"These results present highly credible and large-scale evidence that amyloid PET imaging can be a powerful tool to improve the accuracy of Alzheimer's diagnosis and lead to better medical treatment, especially in cases difficult to diagnose," said the co – author of the study Maria. Carrillo, scientific director of the Alzheimer's Association.
"It is important that amyloid PET images are more widely available to those who need them," she added in a statement from the association.
Funding for the study came from Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc. of General Electric Healthcare and Life Molecular Imaging.
"We are impressed by the magnitude of these results, which make it clear that amyloid PET imaging can have a major impact on how we diagnose and care for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive decline," said lead author Dr. Gil Rabinovici. . He is a professor of neurology at the Center for Memory and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but early diagnosis means that patients can receive treatment to treat the symptoms and be referred to clinical trials for new medications.
Early diagnosis also means that patients and families can plan for the future, including safety, care, legal and financial issues, and access resources and support programs, the researchers said.
In this study, PET scans revealed that about one-third of patients previously diagnosed with Alzheimer's had no significant amyloid increase, and the Alzheimer's diagnosis was reversed.
But in almost half of patients previously undiagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, PET scans revealed a significant accumulation of amyloid plaque, resulting in a new diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
One-third of study participants who were previously referred for Alzheimer's clinical trials showed no signs of amyloid-based positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Based on these results, doctors were able to ensure that almost all (93%) of patients referred for Alzheimer's tests were positive for amyloid, which is critical to the success of these tests.
"Accurate diagnoses are critical to ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate treatments. In particular, Alzheimer's medications can worsen cognitive decline in people with other brain diseases," Rabinovici said.
"But perhaps more fundamentally, people who come to the clinic with concerns about memory problems want answers. An early and definitive diagnosis can allow individuals to be part of planning the next phase of their lives and make decisions that would otherwise be needed be done by others, "he said.
The US National Institute of Aging has more information on Alzheimer's disease.