Current and future uses of neuroimaging for cognitively impaired patients

Gary W Small, Susan Y Bookheimer, Paul M Thompson, Greg M Cole, S-C Huang, Vladimir Kepe, Jorge R Barrio
Lancet Neurology 2008, 7 (2): 161-72
Technological advances have led to greater use of both structural and functional brain imaging to assist with the diagnosis of dementia for the increasing numbers of people with cognitive decline as they age. In current clinical practice, structural imaging (CT or MRI) is used to identify space-occupying lesions and stroke. Functional methods, such as PET scanning of glucose metabolism, could be used to differentiate Alzheimer's disease from frontotemporal dementia, which helps to guide clinicians in symptomatic treatment strategies. New neuroimaging methods that are currently being developed can measure specific neurotransmitter systems, amyloid plaque and tau tangle concentrations, and neuronal integrity and connectivity. Successful co-development of neuroimaging surrogate markers and preventive treatments might eventually lead to so-called brain-check scans for determining risk of cognitive decline, so that physicians can administer disease-modifying medications, vaccines, or other interventions to avoid future cognitive losses and to delay onset of disease.

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