The Role of Routine Laboratory Studies and Neuroimaging in the Diagnosis of Dementia: A Clinicopathological Study

Massoud, Fadi; Devi, Gayatri; Moroney, Joan T.; Stern, Yaakov; Lawton, Arlene; Bell, Karen; Marder, Karen; Mayeux, Richard

OBJECTIVE: To determine the neuropathological diagnoses of longitudinally followed patients with potentially reversible causes of dementia and to examine the results of the “dementia work-up,” especially neuroimaging, by comparison with the pathological diagnosis.

DESIGN: A neuropathologic series of 61 consecutive patients, with review of clinical, laboratory, neuroimaging, and pathological results.

RESULTS: Of the 61 patients, forty-eight (79%) had a clinical diagnosis of probable or possible Alzheimer's disease (AD). Compared with the pathological diagnosis, the sensitivity and specificity of the clinical diagnosis of AD were 96% and 79%, respectively. Of the 61 patients, 9 had abnormal laboratory tests, the correction of which did not improve the subsequent course. These patients were found to have AD8 and frontotemporal dementia1 on pathology. In two patients, neuroimaging was helpful in the clinical diagnoses of frontotemporal dementia and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Neuroimaging revealed cerebrovascular disease in 18 patients, only two of whom were suspected clinically. Pathology confirmed AD in 17 and PSP in 1 of these patients. Sensitivity and specificity for the clinical diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease in comparison with pathology were 6% and 98%, respectively. With the added information from neuroimaging, that sensitivity increased to 59% and specificity decreased to 81%.

CONCLUSIONS: All cases with abnormal laboratory or neuroimaging results had AD or some other neurodegenerative disease on pathology. The “dementia work-up” did not reveal any reversible causes for dementia in this group of patients. Neuroimaging may have a role, especially in the diagnosis of possible AD with concomitant cerebrovascular disease.



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Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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February 11, 2022