Neuroimaging of dementia in 2013: what radiologists need to know

Haller, Sven; Garibotto, Valentina; Kövari, Enikö; Bouras, Constantin; Xekardaki, Aikaterini; Rodriguez, Cristelle; Lazarczyk, Maciej Jakub; Giannakopoulos, Panteleimon; Lovblad, Karl-Olof
December 2013
European Radiology;Dec2013, Vol. 23 Issue 12, p3393
Academic Journal
The structural and functional neuroimaging of dementia have substantially evolved over the last few years. The most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD), Lewy body dementia (LBD) and fronto-temporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), have distinct patterns of cortical atrophy and hypometabolism that evolve over time, as reviewed in the first part of this article. The second part discusses unspecific white matter alterations on T2-weighted and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images as well as cerebral microbleeds, which often occur during normal aging and may affect cognition. The third part summarises molecular neuroimaging biomarkers recently developed to visualise amyloid deposits, tau protein deposits and neurotransmitter systems. The fourth section reviews the utility of advanced image analysis techniques as predictive biomarkers of cognitive decline in individuals with early symptoms compatible with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). As only about half of MCI cases will progress to clinically overt dementia, whereas the other half remain stable or might even improve, the discrimination of stable versus progressive MCI is of paramount importance for both individual patient treatment and patient selection for clinical trials. The fifth and final part discusses the inter-individual variation in the neurocognitive reserve, which is a potential constraint for all proposed methods. Key Points• Many forms of dementia have spatial atrophy patterns detectable on neuroimaging.• Early treatment of dementia is beneficial, indicating the need for early diagnosis.• Advanced image analysis techniques detect subtle anomalies invisible on radiological evaluation.• Inter-individual variation explains variable cognitive impairment despite the same degree of atrophy.


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