By Andréa Stanford
Healthcare practitioners can now add PET (positron emission
tomography) scans to their arsenal of clinical tools for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.
New guidelines, which now equip physicians with criteria for
using this technology to detect cognitive impairments, were jointly issued this
week by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Society of Nuclear Medicine and
Researchers at Pitt pioneered the usage of PET scans to
detect amyloid deposits, which are the primary types of brain plaque associated
with Alzheimer’s. Led by William Klunk,M.D., Ph.D., and professor of psychiatry at the University Of Pittsburgh,
researchers developed the radioactive drug Pittsburgh Compound B to illustrate
these deposits in the brain.
“Many years of research went into the first human studies,
and we’ve had a decade of research beyond that so there are other imaging
agents besides the one currently approved that will probably be coming on the
market,” Dr. Klunk said.
According to the new guidelines, appropriate candidates for
amyloid imaging include:
Conversely, patient scenarios were also outlined for which
the new technology would not be suitable.
These ranged from confirming an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in patients over 65 who display
clear symptoms of the disorder, to mitigating concerns in healthy individuals
with a family history of dementia.
- Patients with persistent or inexplicable mild
- Patients who meet core clinical diagnostic
criteria for possible Alzheimer’s
disease, but whose symptoms are abnormal.
- Patients with progressive dementia beginning at
age 65 or younger.
Ultimately, amyloid imaging can be beneficial in diagnosing
patients with Alzheimer’s; however, this tool must be used in conjunction with
other clinical assessments, and it must be performed according to standardized
protocols by trained staff.
Today to learn more about the imaging guidelines.