Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

PET Scans Have High Error Rate in the Diagnosis of Non-Alzheimer's Dementia

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

PET Scans Have High Error Rate in the Diagnosis of Non-Alzheimer's Dementia

Article excerpt

Interpreting a type of brain scan called positron emission tomography (PET) is reliable for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the modality is prone to error when diagnosing another common form of degenerative dementia, according to researchers at University of Texas in Dallas.

"Doctors seem to have a Alzheimer's-centric approach to PET scans," said Dr. Kyle Womack, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and Psychiatry and lead study author.

"If they see the classic changes associated with Alzheimer's, they stop. Unfortunately, PET scans are used primarily when other examinations cannot tell dementias apart, so it is vital that they are effective. Our results show that if clinicians pay more attention to certain areas of the brain when reading these scans, their interpretations improve."

The study tested physicians' ability to distinguish between AD and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), the third most common cause of degenerative dementia, using a three-dimensional imaging technique called fludeoxyglucose F18 (FDG-PET) scanning.

In a PET scan, patients are given a solution of sugar tagged with a radioactive tracer. When the sugar reaches the brain, it congregates in metabolically active areas that "light up" on scans. …

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