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Comparison of different diagnostic criteria for vascular dementia (ADDTC, DSM-IV, ICD-10, NINDS-AIREN).

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Vascular dementia (VD) has been an ill-defined term thus far. Recently detailed criteria for the diagnosis of VD have been proposed (Alzheimer's Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centers [ADDTC], 1992; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition [DSM-IV], 1994; International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision [ICD-10], 1992, 1993; and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke-Association Internationale pour la Recherche et l'Enseignement en Neurosciences [NINDS-AIREN], 1993). Until now the clinical feasibility of these diagnostic guidelines has not been evaluated.

METHODS: This study aimed to compare these criteria in an unselected sample of 167 elderly patients (mean age, 72.0 +/- 9.9 years) admitted with probable dementia.

RESULTS: The number of cases that could be classified as VD differed widely between the various diagnostic guidelines. According to DSM-IV criteria, 45 cases were diagnosed as VD. Twenty-one cases fulfilled the ICD-10 research criteria, but only 12 met the NINDS-AIREN criteria for VD. Twenty-three cases were classified as ischemic VD as defined by the ADDTC criteria. The concordance was very poor since only 5 cases met the criteria for VD of all diagnostic guidelines.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the classification according to different diagnostic guidelines yields rather distinct groups of patients. The reasons responsible for these findings are as follows: (1) different criteria for dementia, (2) limitation to ischemic VD in the ADDTC criteria, (3) no further differentiation of VD into subtypes according to CT or MRI findings (DSM-IV), and (4) the multifactorial etiopathology of VD. Major diagnostic difficulties ensue from the very frequent cases with white matter lesions, since their etiology and classification remain widely unknown.

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