PET (positron emission topography) scans could significantly improve diagnosis for people in the early stages of dementia. Early diagnosis of dementia is important for providing the best available treatments and therapies in the early course of the disease when they can be most effective. Researchers at the University of Michigan studied 66 people with either mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment who were evaluated by experts using standard neurological brain tests and anatomic brain imaging. The participants then had a PET test which looked for amyloid deposits in their brain (one of the main signs of Alzheimer's disease) and at the way their brains were dealing with the neurotransmitter dopamine. The participants' initial diagnosis changed more than 25% of the time after PET imaging and the PET scans provided images of important signs of disease that other scans missed, such as deposits of amyloid plaque and damage to dopamine nerves.
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