WASHINGTON (AP) – Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer’s? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests PET scans may lead to treatment changes for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down.
Wednesday’s findings mark a first peek at a huge study to determine whether Medicare should pay for specialized PET scans searching for an Alzheimer’s hallmark – sticky amyloid plaque.
Researchers tracked nearly 4,000 people with unusual dementia symptoms or who have puzzling early-stage mild memory loss.
Preliminary results show that in about two-thirds of cases, PET results changed doctors’ initial plans for medication, counseling or further testing The key change: Which patients needed drugs that temporarily ease Alzheimer’s symptoms.
The data was reported at an international Alzheimer’s meeting in London.