You may have questions about Alzheimer’s disease, whether the aging you are experiencing is a normal part of life or if your loss of memory is due to a possible disorder. These are important questions to ask, and MD Nuclear Imaging may be able to provide you with an answers.
PET can determine if a patient is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy or other neurological conditions. Alzheimer’s disease affects over four million people. Ten percent of those over age 65 and half of those over age 85 are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to double by the year 2030.
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that slowly decays one’s ability to carry out daily activities and damages the portion of the brain that controls thought, memory and language. Early symptoms may include difficulty in daily tasks and remembering common words. Confusion and lack of understanding are common symptoms as Alzheimer’s develops. As the disease heightens, one may become agitated, disoriented and unfamiliar with their surroundings. Eventually a person can not function without the care of another individual.
Positron Emission Tomography is a procedure that uses small amounts of radioactive tracer to image the body’s organs. This tracer (FDG, fluorodeoxyglucose) is a sugar that is used by the brain and other areas such as the heart and cancer cells. The PET scanner can detect the signals given off by the tracer as the sugar goes to the normal areas of the brain and does not go to the areas that are typically affected in Alzheimer’s disease. PET scans show the biological changes in the brain from Alzheimer’s disease before other diagnostic tests and several years earlier than the onset of symptoms. This allows a Neurologist to pinpoint the problem for effective treatment. Alzheimer’s has a very distinct, abnormal metabolic pattern and by using PET, a Radiologist may effectively be able to diagnose the disease.
Because Alzheimer’s disease shares it’s symptoms with approximately 80 other neurological conditions, it is difficult to diagnose. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is often an elimination process. By using a combination of tests such as a personal medical history, a physical examination and laboratory tests and a mental status evaluation, your physician may identify or eliminate certain conditions or diseases such as thyroid disease or brain tumor. After these tests are performed, your physician may feel it is necessary to refer you for a PET scan. All of these steps are a piece of a puzzle that will ultimately aid your Neurologist in your diagnosis and proper treatment.