PET Scan Can Detect Alzheimer's Symptoms

Armen Hareyan's picture
Pet Scan and Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms

A type of brain imaging named positron emission tomography (PET) scan may allow physicians to detect early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. PET scan is not new. It is already being used for cancer and heart screening, but it is the first time researchers consider it as a brain imaging method.

The brain of an Alzheimer's patient is known to contain abnormal tissues - amyloid plaques - which are not yet possible to detect. The only way to detect them is to physically check the brain in autopsy, which is possible after the death only. If confirmed, this new method will allow doctors to find plaques long before a patient will develop dementia symptoms and prescribe a treatment to slow down the disease progression.


The study comes from researchers from University of Kuopio in Finland. They examined 10 patients who had to undergo brain biopsy because they had brain cerebrospinal fluid increased. When examining brain tissues of these patients, physicians found plaques leading to Alzheimer's disease in 6 patients, while the other 4 did not have any plaques.

The patients were later given chemical marker to detect Alzheimer's plaques in brain and then the patients were undergone a 90 minute PET scan. The scan gave correct results for 9 out of 10 patients, which is a pretty good result.

About 26 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's disease and it is estimated that the number will increase to 106 million by 2050. Researchers were always looking for ways to detect the disease as early as possible. If confirmed, PET scans will enable early Alzheimer's disease diagnosis and on time treatment.