A new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique called arterial spin can distinguish between frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Frontotemporal dementia is often mistaken for Alzheimer's disease in patients although it is different from the latter in its behavior manifestations. The disease is characterized by either gradual changes in behavior patterns characterized by repetitive or compulsive behavior, lack of inhibition or control, and changes in dietary and personal hygiene habits; or gradual language dysfunction.
The researchers for the study had used blood flow in the areas of the brain to distinguish between two forms of neural degenerative disease. Researchers feel that since the progression of frontotemporal dementia is usually faster than Alzheimer's and the pathology of the disease is different as well, the new scanning technique will help the physicians make an early diagnosis based on the non-invasive scan images.
Brain blood flow is usually measured by using positron emission tomography or single proton emission computerized Tomography that involves injecting the patients with radioactive tracers. These expensive procedures are time consuming as well. The advent of the new technique will not only be non-invasive, but quick and easy way to diagnose the condition of the patient.
Reference: University of California, San Francisco, news release, June 2005