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Mayo Clinic Imaging Studies May Help Diagnose Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

July 3, 2010

Diffusion tensor MR imaging (DTI) provides information on the tissue microstructure in the brain. The data generated by this imaging technology may be helpful in differentiating between various forms of dementias and cognitive impairment in the future. One study looked at the DTI characteristics of patients with dementia with Lewy bodies compared to patients with Alzheimer's disease and cognitively normal subjects. Researchers found that the imaging from patients with dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimers disease differed significantly from that of patients in the control group. This information may be useful in diagnosing patients with dementia with Lewy bodies or Alzheimer's disease. The second study looked at the characteristic DTI profiles of patients with amnestic and non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment. The imaging results of amnestic mild cognitive impairment patients were consistent with what would be expected during the progression of Alzheimers disease. However, the tissue microstructure of some non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment patients differed from that of amnestic mild cognitive impairment patients, thereby suggesting that Alzheimers disease may not always be the cause of all non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Each of these advanced imaging tools we are studying may give us independent information so we can determine pathological processes and understand their evolution better, says Kejal Kantarci, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist who is the lead author on both studies. In turn, these tools may help us with early diagnosis of dementia and differentiating the type of dementia.

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