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Study: MRIs help to identify dementia type

January 8, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Executive Editor
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Does the patient have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia? Now researchers may be able to use MRI technology to tell.

The treatments for the different manifestations of dementia vary. In an article published in the journal Neurology, 185 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) were recruited by the researchers to determine the effectiveness of using MRI scans as a noninvasive screening procedure.

While Alzheimer’s and FTLD display similar symptoms,  they develop differently in the brain, according to researchers. Signs of FTLD manifest in people 40 to 70 years of age, earlier than Alzheimer’s patients. FTLD disorders occur because of degeneration in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain—the areas associated with personality and behavior. Behavioral changes, memory loss and loss of language skills are a result of Alzheimer’s attack on nerve cells in the brain.

The ability to determine the type of dementia through MRI after observing symptoms is less costly and less invasive than positron electronic tomography (PET) scans or a lumbar puncture to analyze cerebral spinal fluid biomarkers.

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