Combination of Tests May Improve Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Using both imaging and biomarker tests for Alzheimer’s disease leads to more accurate diagnostic results, a Duke Medicine study suggests in this week’s Radiology.

In the press release, study author Jeffrey Petrella, M.D., explains, “This study marks the first time these diagnostic tests have been used together to help predict the progression of Alzheimer’s. If you use all three biomarkers, you get a benefit above that of the pencil-and-paper neuropsychological tests used by doctors today… Each of these tests adds new information by looking at Alzheimer’s from a different angle.”

Participating in the study were 97 people with mild cognitive impairment, who were followed for up to four years. Since many conditions show similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s, the researchers compared the misclassification rate of neuropsychological testing and other routine clinical exams with the combination of magnetic resonance imaging, a form of positron emission tomography, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis in addition to these tests. They found that by using the combination of tests, they were able to substantially reduce the misclassification rate from 41.3% to 28.4%.

This research was partially funded by the Dana Foundation.

– Ann L. Whitman

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