Using a combination of tests is the best way to predict Alzheimer’s in patients who have mild cognitive disorder, according to new research.
The study, conducted at Duke University School of Medicine, focused on three procedures: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), and cerebrospinal fluid analysis. Researchers added these tests to traditional clinical diagnostic techniques that are already in use, including neuropsychological testing.
Researchers examined the records of 97 older patients who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. The participants checked in with physicians for a period of up to four years.
The misdiagnosis of the patients’ condition, based on current clinical testing alone, was 41.3 percent. But the misdiagnosis percentage among those who took the three additional tests was 28.4 percent. Of the three tests, FDG-PET was the most effective.
The researchers said the study was important because the misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s is a serious problem. Study author P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke and study author, said in a statement that “There are more than 100 conditions that can mimic the disease. In people with mild memory complaints, our accuracy is barely better than chance. Given that the definitive gold standard for diagnosing Alzheimer's is autopsy, we need a better way to look into the brain. “
The researchers said further studies were needed to figure out the cost effectiveness of these procedures.
The findings were published in the journal Radiology.