SNM Logo A few days ago we reported about why memory loss, or dementia, occurs in senior citizens. The study pointed out silent strokes or spots of dead brain cells as the cause. Following this, results of a decade-long research have highlighted that positron emission tomography or PET can accurately and safely detect early symptoms of dementia.

PET is used in a molecular imaging technique under which, a biological marker called 18F-FDG is injected in patients. This biomarker identifies the specific areas of metabolic decline in the brain which can be a sign of dementia. Over the span of this investigation, researchers analyzed various PET studies to evaluate this molecular imaging technique. They also concluded that this system can help diagnose the disease at earlier stages as compared to other methods.

“The new data support the role of 18F-FDG PET as an effective addition to other diagnostic methods used to assess patients with symptoms of dementia,” commented Nicolaas Bohnen, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and professor of radiology and neurology at the University of Michigan. “The review also identified new literature showing the benefit of this imaging technique for not only helping to diagnose dementia but also for improving physician confidence when diagnosing a patient with dementia. This process can be difficult for physicians, especially when evaluating younger patients or those who have subtle signs of disease.”

Other than this, PET also helps distinguishing various forms of dementia from one another. The metabolism reductions marked in several lobes of the cerebral cortex can aid health care providers in determining the type of dementia the concerned patient is developing or suffering from.

This research has been published in the January 2012 issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.