Diagnostic Tests for Alzheimer's Disease | Alzheimer's Medical Tests
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Alzheimer's tests

Diagnostic Tests for Alzheimer’s Disease


Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease is known as the most common form of dementia.
The early signs of this disease include forgetting recent events and conversations. As the disease progresses, an individual with Alzheimer’s disease develops severe memory worsening and loses the ability to perform everyday tasks.

There is no such treatment that can cure Alzheimer’s disease or which can alter this process in the brain. In further stages of the disease, further complications can occur such as severe loss of brain functioning – such as an infection, dehydration, or malnutrition which may lead to death.

How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

There is no single diagnostic test that can determine if an individual is suffering fro Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors recommend variety of possible approaches to detect Alzheimer’s disease. 

1. Brain Imaging

Brain imaging, which is also known as brain scans, can measure the size of the brain, identify and detect specific regions of the brain, detect biochemical changes, and vascular damage. Doctors can use brain scans to find any brain disorders like a tumour or stroke. Brain imaging is used to monitor biochemical and structural changes in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. There are several types of brain scans:

2. Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

CT Scan is a type of X-ray that uses radiation to create images of the body. In a CT Brain scan, the images can show the size of the brain and also detect any tumour, stroke, or head injury or any other potential symptom of dementia. CT scan gives a more significant image than normal X- rays.
During a CT Brain/Head Scan, an individual lies down in a scanner for 10 to 20 minutes. A donut-shaped device moves around the head to produce an image of that region. A CT scan can show shrinkage of the brain’s region that may occur in dementia. 

3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce more detailed pictures of body structures, including the size and shape. MRI Brain/Head Scan can identify some causes of dementia symptoms such as a tumour, stroke, or head injury. The imaging may also show whether the areas of the brain have shrunk or atrophied. 

During the procedure, a person lies down in a tunnel-shaped scanner for 20-30 minutes. MRI scan is a safe, painless procedure that does not involve any radiation. Because MRI uses a high magnetic field to produce images, people with metal types in their body such as pacemakers, surgical clips, etc. cannot undergo this process.

MRI Brain/Head Scan provides pictures of the brain and brain-related abnormal changes such as shrinkage. Indication of shrinkage may support the detection of Alzheimer’s disease or any other neurodegenerative disorder, but it cannot indicate any specific diagnosis.
Doctors often use MRI scans to identify or figure out the cause of memory loss and vascular brain injury, tumours, etc.

Note Always consult your physician before getting any tests performed.

4. Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET scan uses a small amount of radioactive substance, called a tracer, to estimate specific activity, such as energy (glucose) used in different parts of the brain. Different PET uses different tracers. It is commonly used in cancer or dementia research. The person having a PET scan is injected with a radioactive tracer into the veins of the arm and then lied on the cushioned table which is moved into a donut-shaped scanner. The PET scanner when used to scan the brain, takes images of the brain and reveals regions of normal and abnormal chemical activity. It is much quieter than an MRI. The entire procedure may take approximately one hour or more.

Several PET tracers can be used to detect different aspects of dementia, such as disease status, progression, and metabolic changes in different parts of the brain.

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET Scan: This test measures glucose use in the body. Glucose is used as a primary source of energy for cells. People with dementia usually have an abnormal pattern of decreased glucose used in a particular area of the brain. FDG PET scan shows the pattern that may support a diagnosis of a specific cause of dementia. FDG PET imaging may be useful if a doctor strongly suspects frontotemporal dementia in opposition to Alzheimer’s dementia based on the individual’s symptoms.

  • Amyloid PET Scan:
    This type of PET scan measures the abnormal deposition of a protein― beta-amyloid. A high level of beta-amyloid indicates the presence of amyloid plaques, an authentication mark for Alzheimer’s disease. Several tracers can be used for amyloid PET scans such as florbetapir, florbetaben, flutemetamol, etc. Sometimes amyloid PET scan is used by the specialists to diagnose when Alzheimer’s disease is suspected but undetermined. This imaging may also help with diagnosis when people with dementia usually show very mild symptoms.

  • Tau PET Scan:
    The scan detects the abnormal accumulation of Tau protein, which forms tangles in the nerve cells in Alzheimer’s disease and many other forms of dementia.

5. Blood Test For Alzheimer ‘s Disease

A recent study found that a blood test can be helpful in the detection of beta-amyloid protein build-up in an individual’s brain years before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear. High amount of beta-amyloid can deposit together and form plaques in the brain, which is a strong evidence associated with Alzheimer’s disease. According to a recent study, researchers found that plaques can appear as early as 20 years before the initial symptom of Alzheimer’s disease appears. A PET scan can spot amyloid plaque in the brain, and the blood test is used to measure beta-amyloid in the body. When beta-amyloid begins to build-up, the ratio between the two proteins (beta-amyloid 42 and beta-amyloid 40) changes, and a blood test can detect this.

Diagnostic and Pathology Tests Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).



Data Source:

• https://www.healthline.com/health/alzheimers-disease#prevention
• https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159442.php
• https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350447
• https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/blood-test-may-find-early-signs-of-alzheimers
• https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/biomarkers-dementia-detection-and-research


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Alzheimer’s Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, Stages,Risk Factors
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Alzheimer’s Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, Stages,Risk Factors
Read Alzheimer's disease, causes, symptoms, prevention, stages, risk factors and complications. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline.
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