According to research published in JAMA, (PET) positron emission tomography detects Alzheimer’s-related plaques, and the imaging results influence patient’s care plans.
The researchers enrolled 16,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the study. The first part of the study focused on how physicians changed the drug prescription and counseling for the patients. For patients with(MCI) Mild cognitive impairmentwho had amyloid deposits, the doctorswere twice as likely to prescribe medication for Alzheimer’s disease. For patients with dementia, the prescriptions rose to 91% up from 63% (before PET)after a positive amyloid imaging.
For MCI and dementia patients with negative amyloid testing but were previously on Alzheimer’s medication, the physicians took them off the drugs. The change is evidence of the role of PET in improving diagnosis and drug prescription for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists also wanted to know if PET imaging results led to changes in diagnosis. The authors found out that the physicians changed the diagnosis for 25% of the patients from Alzheimer’s to non-Alzheimer. For 11% of the patients, the diagnosis changed from non-Alzheimer to Alzheimer’s.
According to Mario C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, and co-author of the study, “These results present highly credible, large-scale evidence that amyloid PET imaging can be a powerful tool to improve the accuracy of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and lead to better medical management, especially in difficult-to-diagnose cases. It is important that amyloid PET imaging be more broadly accessible to those who need it.”
The published article states that the biomarker is the first among others that physicians will need for Alzheimer’s and dementia. The scientists are confident that physicians will provide an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategy for people with an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s disease using the biomarker. The scientists are currently working on a study that examines how amyloid PET scans influence health outcomes after the scan.