Jan 10, 2012

Jay Smith on the Role of FDG-PET to Assess Patients with Symptoms of Dementia

I've often had doubts about my diagnosis -- and possibly some survivor's guilt too...

Alzheimer's Reading Room

Our long time reader Jay Smith sent us the comment below in response to the article, Pet Scans Detect Dementia and Differentiate Between Alzheimer, Frontotemporal, and Lewy Bodies Dementia.

You'll notice while reading his comment that Jay has a unique and important perspective.

After reading the comment below you might want to review Jay's article, This Man Decided to Fight Alzheimer's -- Jay Smith. The article describes the regimen (routine) that Jay is using to fight AD.

In his previous article Jay sent a very clear message to those in the Alzheimer's community that believe otherwise.

Today, nearly seven years after disability retirement due to Alzheimer's and over five years since diagnosis, I'm still living Alzheimer's, and have come to think of myself as a survivor.

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By Wantland J. (Jay) Smith

Very encouraging news!

Wantland J. (Jay) Smith
First, it's encouraging to me personally, because it gives me confidence about my own diagnosis of "early Alzheimer's disease" that I received in fall of 2005, that was based on FDG-PET several years before the new diagnostic criteria were formulated.

My primary care physician ordered a PET scan using radioactive glucose after reading the results of the comprehensive neuro-psychological tests I brought to him that showed significant short-term auditory and visual memory loss, and he referred me to a neurologist to review the scan when completed. The FDG-PET scan showed both reduced brainwave activity and atrophy in the parietal lobe of the cerebral cortex consistent with early Alzheimer's disease.

Upon examination and review of the PET scan, the neurologist concluded that "the patient has early Alzheimer's disease."

Since then, I've often had doubts about my diagnosis -- and possibly some survivor's guilt too -- because I've been able to continue doing so many things I love to do, and because the main symptom of the disease that ended my career in early 2004 -- to wit, severe fatigue -- hasn't gotten that much worse over the years either.

Second, and more importantly, for the benefit of the many people who seek medical help to learn what is causing their cognitive problems, this study demonstrates the value of FDG-PET in getting a diagnosis. It should change the way all clinicians, both primary care physicians as well as specialists in neurology, gerontology, and psychiatry, fully exploit the opportunity to use this available and relatively inexpensive technology to diagnose AD.

It's especially important in this emerging new age of AD, when the value of early detection and diagnosis is being heralded by leading researchers in the field, and when the benefits of early treatment and lifestyle intervention are being increasingly recognized by clinicians.

This study should provide the much needed impetus for increased use of FDG-PET, with the benefit of earlier diagnosis of AD.

Congratulations to the study team! Thanks to you Bob for putting it out here in Alzheimer's Reading Room!

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room