Last month, a major step forward was taken towards bringing the science of brain imaging into mainstream clinical practice. It appears imminent that the FDA will approve the use of PET scans for amyloid plaques as a diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease.
In my opinion this is a great first step.
Next we should look at combining this test with an anatomical one, such as MRI , that looks for and measures hippocampal volume. The anatomical test should increase the overall test accuracy.
Although the NY Times article states: “Plaques are part of the criteria for having Alzheimer’s” if a person with memory problems does not have plaques, that person does not have Alzheimer’s it has also been shown that amyloid plaques do not correlate with cognitive changes in Alzheimer’s disease. The ultimate test would be possible only after a more complete understanding of Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology.
The NY Times article was published on the health section on January 20th 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/health/21alzheimers.html
Adolfo Cotter, MD