Structural MRI may help to accurately diagnose dementia patients
22 July 2009
A new study may help physicians differentially diagnose three common
neurodegenerative disorders in the future. The study by the Mayo Clinic
in the US was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International
Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Vienna earlier this month.
In this study, Mayo Clinic researchers developed a framework for
MRI-based differential diagnosis of three common neurodegenerative
disorders: Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and
Lewy body disease using Structural MRI.
Currently, examination of the brain at autopsy is the only way to
confirm with certainty that a patient had a specific form of dementia.
The framework, which is called "structural abnormality index" or
STAND-Map, shows promise in accurately diagnosing dementia patients
while they are alive.
The rationale is that if each neurodegenerative disorder can be
associated with a unique pattern of atrophy specific on MRI, then it may
be possible to differentially diagnose new patients. The study looked at
90 patients from the Mayo Clinic database who were confirmed to have
only a single dementia pathology and also underwent an MRI at the time
of clinical diagnosis of dementia. Using the STAND-Map framework,
researchers predicted an accurate pathological diagnosis 75 to 80% of
"The STAND-Map framework might have great potential in early
diagnosis of dementia patients," says Prashanthi Vemuri, PhD, a senior
research fellow at the Mayo Clinic aging and dementia imaging research
lab and lead author of the study. "The next step would be to test the
framework on a larger population to see if we can replicate these
results and improve the accuracy level we achieved in this proof of
concept study. In turn, this may lead to better treatment options for
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