PET scan using a PIB marker helps doctors to make a more accurate diagnosis between two common types of dementia - Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), says research. The study is published in the November 30, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"These two types of dementia share similar symptoms, so telling the two apart while a person is living is a real challenge, but important so doctors can determine the best form of treatment," said study author Gil D. Rabinovici, MD, of the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the study, 107 people with early onset Alzheimer's disease or FTLD underwent a brain PET scan using a PIB marker, which detects amyloid or plaque in the brain that is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease but not related to FTLD. The participants underwent another PET scan using a FDG marker, which detects changes in the brain's metabolism and is currently used to help differentiate between the two types of dementia.
"While widespread use of PIB PET scans isn't available at this time, similar amyloid markers are being developed for clinical use, and these findings support a role for amyloid imaging in correctly diagnosing Alzheimer's disease versus FTLD," said Rabinovici.