New PET Scan Distinguishes Alzheimer's from Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer's are two conditions which look similar to the average person. In fact, they look similar to many doctors. Diagnosis between the two is difficult which makes the development of treatments for either of them hard for researchers. A new breakthrough at the University of Utah makes differentiating between the two problems easier. A dementia expert at the university has found that a special PET scan, the FDG-PET scan, can help doctors tell whether a patient is suffering from Alzheimer's or whether it is dementia. In terms of what's going on in the brain, the major difference between the two is that Alzheimer's affects the back of the brain while dementia attacks the front. The scan allows doctors to tell which part of the brain is being affected in order to make a correct diagnosis. This diagnosis is important for the individual patient as well as for researchers developing treatments for either disease. The symptoms and development of each disease appear similar but affect different areas of the brain function. Treatments to come in the future will depend on treating the right area of the brain for each patient. Those treatments have not yet been developed but doctors are one step closer if they can properly diagnose their diseases.

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