Can Imaging Tests Help Diagnose & Treat Dementia?

How to help Alzheimer's disease

Dementia is a progressive neurological disorder that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. It is estimated that over 50 million people worldwide live with dementia. As the number of dementia cases continues to rise, researchers are looking for ways to diagnose and treat this debilitating disorder. One of the most promising techniques is imaging tests.

Types of Imaging Tests Used to Diagnose Dementia

Imaging tests can provide a wealth of information about a person’s brain health and allow clinicians to diagnose dementia more accurately than ever before. Doctors may use a combination of structural and functional scans to get a complete picture and diagnose dementia accurately.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans are the most commonly used structural imaging tests.

MRI scans use powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the brain, while CT scans use X-rays to create two-dimensional images of the brain from multiple angles. These tests can reveal any abnormalities in the size or shape of the brain as well as lesions or other damage due to aging or disease.

Functional scans like SPECT and PET scans can be extremely helpful for diagnosing dementia because they allow doctors to detect changes in blood flow in different parts of the brain associated with this condition. Doctors can use these functional scans to get an accurate picture of what is happening inside the brain without invasive procedures like biopsies or lumbar punctures.

This makes them an ideal tool for diagnosing dementia quickly and accurately.

senior man with dementia

SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). This type of scan utilizes a special camera that can detect gamma rays from a radioactive tracer injected into the patient’s bloodstream.
As the tracer travels through the brain, it accumulates in areas with increased activity, and the SPECT machine detects this. The scan produces an image that shows areas of the brain with either too much or too little activity, which helps physicians make an accurate diagnosis.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning involves injecting the patient with glucose tagged with radioactive isotopes. As glucose enters cells in various body parts, it emits gamma rays detected by unique cameras on a PET scanner. The scan produces images that doctors can use to spot changes in brain activity associated with dementia, such as reduced blood flow or activity in specific brain areas.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of dementia, talk to your doctor about getting one or both types of scans done as part of your diagnosis process.

The Benefits of Imaging Tests

In addition to providing valuable information about a person’s brain health, imaging tests can also monitor changes in the brain over time. This is especially helpful for diagnosing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, which typically progresses slowly over many years.

Using imaging tests regularly, clinicians can measure how quickly a person’s condition progresses and adjust treatments accordingly. In some cases, imaging tests may even be able to detect signs of dementia before symptoms have begun to appear.

Imaging tests are an invaluable tool for diagnosing and treating dementia patients. They can provide detailed images of the brain, revealing abnormalities caused by age or disease that may not be visible on other diagnostic tests. In addition, they allow clinicians to monitor changes in the brain over time which can help track progression rates and adjust treatments accordingly. Ultimately, these types of testing will help us better understand this complex disorder and find ways to more accurately diagnose and effectively treat it in the future.

Contact ImageCare Radiology

If your doctor schedules an imaging test to help diagnose or treat dementia in you or a loved one, call ImageCare Centers immediately. We offer state-of-the-art imaging at a fraction of the cost of hospitals and urgent care clinics. Contact us today at 973-871-3333 to schedule an appointment or complete our convenient online appointment request form.