Suitability of the Montreal cognitive assessment versus the mini-mental state examination in detecting vascular cognitive impairment

Masafumi Ihara, Yoko Okamoto, Ryosuke Takahashi
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases: the Official Journal of National Stroke Association 2013, 22 (6): 737-41
The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) has been criticized as being an insufficient screening test for patients with vascular cognitive impairment because of its insensitivity to visuospatial and executive functional deficits. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was designed to be more sensitive to such deficits, and thus may be a superior screening instrument for vascular cognitive impairment. Twelve patients with extensive leukoaraiosis detected on magnetic resonance imaging (average age, 76.0 ± 8.7 years) underwent neurologic and cognitive testing, including MMSE and the Japanese version of the MoCA (MoCA-J). Accepted cutoff scores of <27 for the MMSE and <26 for the MoCA-J were taken to indicate cognitive impairment. Z-scores were calculated to evaluate the discriminating ability of individual MMSE and MoCA-J subtest scores. Although there was a strong correlation between the total MMSE and total MoCA-J scores (r = 0.90; P < .0001), MMSE scores were skewed toward the higher end of the range (range, 18-30; median, 28), whereas MoCA-J scores were normally distributed (range, 9-28; median, 21). Of the 7 patients with an unimpaired MMSE score, 6 (86%) had an impaired MoCA-J score. Z-scores were >5 for 4 MMSE subtests (orientation, registration, naming, and language) but for only 1 MoCA-J subtest (naming). The MoCA-J better discriminated cognitive status in subjects with extensive leukoaraiosis. Our findings suggest that the MoCA-J is more sensitive than the MMSE in screening for cognitive impairment in patients with subcortical vascular cognitive impairment.

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