Researchers in the United States and Europe have developed a new technique for detecting and diagnosing different forms of dementia that is accurate “more than 94 percent of the time,” according to a new study.
Study participants found that different forms of dementia affect glucose (sugar) consumption in different parts of the brain. Using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and a glucose substitute that can be easily traced in PET images, researchers could look at areas deep inside the brain they had never been able to study before.
“Each type of dementia examined – Alzheimer’s disease (AD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) – affects a different area of the brain. Based on where in the brain this decrease [in glucose levels] occurred, we were able to determine which type of dementia a patient had,” said Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. 548 dementia patients were examined during the course of the study.
It is hoped that this research will lead to diagnoses of dementia in earlier stages. The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.