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Can an MRI Detect Alzheimer’s Disease?

By Cherie Coe, 8:00 am on

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which ranks as the fourth most common cause of death in the United States, can be difficult to definitively diagnose. The disease, which is characterized by the progressive onset of dementia, causes an individual to exhibit a number of symptoms ranging from confusion and forgetfulness to changes in mood and behavior.

As a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care in Jefferson County, we’re always looking to share some of the new and innovative diagnosis and treatment options in regards to memory care. Today, we’re going share some insight into using MRIs to detect Alzheimer’s disease its early stages – doing so can help to enhance future health and quality of life for seniors and aging adults.

There is no single method used to prove that an individual has Alzheimer’s. Although a complete assessment usually includes several techniques – such as genetic testing, neurological screening and a mental status exam – brain imaging techniques like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography) are playing an increasingly important part in the medical community’s efforts to better understand and diagnose Alzheimer’s.

Neuroimaging has revolutionized our ability to understand the inner-workings of the active brain. When it comes to Alzheimer’s, MRI is the preferred technique. It’s often less expensive and less invasive than other commonly used techniques and allows for more accurate measurements of the brain, providing 3D reports of the volume of the hippocampus and related regions. MRI can be especially helpful in ruling out conditions that may present symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s. These conditions include brain injury, a tumor, cerebrovascular disease, stroke, or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).

Duke University researchers found that they could accurately diagnose patients 75% of the time by studying the density of their patients’ grey matter using MRI. Those with Alzheimer’s show large reductions in hippocampal volumes as well as changes in blood flow and glucose metabolism. Although a single MRI can be helpful in diagnosing the memory condition, two scans taken a year apart can be particularly telling, showing how the patient’s brain structure and function have changed over time.

Early detection is key to successfully treating and managing Alzheimer’s disease. Although an MRI isn’t enough to provide a confirmed Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it’s a great place to start. If you’re concerned that an aging parent or loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s, talk with their doctor to learn more about how an MRI might help confirm or rule-out an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

For more information about Alzheimer’s care or to learn more about caring for a senior adult with a memory condition, visit our website at www.homecareassistancejeffersonco.com or contact us directly at 303-987-5992 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.