PETCT brain imaging in dementia

Author(s): Dr Haroon Motara, Dr Chirag Patel, Dr Fahmid Chowdhury

Hospital: Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Reference: RAD Magazine, 43, 511, 21-22


Dementia is a clinical syndrome characterised by neurodegeneration that leads to progressive deterioration in several intellectual domains, including memory, language and executive brain function. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the commonest cause of neurodegenerative dementia that accounts for more than 60% of all cases, followed by vascular dementia, mixed dementia, Lewy body dementia (DLB), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and other rarer causes. The World Alzheimer Report projects that the number of people living with dementia worldwide will increase from 47 to 131 million by 2050 and will cost US$1 trillion by 2018. In the UK, there are over 850,000 people living with dementia with an estimated national economic cost of UK£26 billion.

Although dementia is considered an incurable condition, obtaining a timely diagnosis is crucial not only to allow access to appropriate treatments, but also to empower individuals to participate more actively in management decisions, plan for their future, and access support services from statutory and voluntary organisations. Failure to make a diagnosis can also potentially lead to long periods of followup and repeated neuropsychological assessments, which result in unnecessary anxiety for patients and can prove expensive in the long-run. The correct subtype diagnosis is important, as the course of the disease and prognosis vary between different aetiologies. Making a clinical diagnosis remains the mainstay of identifying patients with dementia, but it is well recognised that this can be both challenging and unreliable, particularly in those presenting at a younger age (<65 years), with atypical symptoms, and/or with significant psychological overlay, such as anxiety or depression.

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