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Expert system developed to enhance diagnostic accuracy of Alzheimer's disease with FDG PET scans

TORONTO, Canada--German scientists developed a computer program that enhances the diagnostic accuracy of positron emission tomography (PET) scans with Alzheimer's patients, opening the door for earlier treatment of this progressive brain disorder. Details of their findings were provided at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 52nd Annual Meeting in Toronto.

"Positron emission tomography (PET) with FDG (fluorodeoxyglucose) in the hands of the experienced investigator is the most reliable noninvasive test to detect Alzheimer's disease in the early stage; however, reading these scans depends on the experience of the interpreter," said Peter Bartenstein, department of nuclear medicine, University Mainz, Mainz, Germany. "Our expert system enables reliable diagnosis of Alzheimer's with PET even for inexperienced physicians. For the experienced reader, it is also very helpful in difficult cases to establish the diagnosis," he added.

Alzheimer's disease gradually destroys one's memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. More than 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, including former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who endured the disease for years before his death last June. An early, accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's helps patients and their families plan for the future, and it gives them time to discuss care while the patient can still take part in making decisions.

Recent studies indicate that positron emission tomography (PET), a powerful medical imaging procedure, can supply important diagnostic information and confirm an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Conventionally, the confirmation of Alzheimer's is a long process of elimination that averages between two and three years of diagnostic and cognitive testing. Early diagnosis provides a patient access to therapies, which are more effective earlier in the disease, and allows for future planning before loss of mental capacity. "Early and
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Contact: Maryann Verrillo
mverrillo@snm.org
703-708-9000
Society of Nuclear Medicine
20-Jun-2005


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