Sensitivity and specificity of three clinical criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies in an autopsy-verified sample

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 1999 Jul;14(7):526-33.


Objective: To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the clinical features of three published diagnostic criteria for diffuse Lewy body disease (DLBD) using autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer's (AD), DLBD and AD+DLBD (mixed) dementia cases.

Design: Retrospective chart review of an autopsy series of 56 patients selected from the State of Florida Brain Bank on the basis of a pathological diagnosis of either pure AD, DLBD (pure and common forms) or AD+DLBD (mixed) dementia. Clinical features were assessed by three raters blind to the pathological diagnosis.

Results: The existing criteria for a clinical diagnosis of DLBD were highly specific (90-100%) but not very sensitive (49-63%) in the differential diagnosis of DLBD versus AD; sensitivity did improve (61-74%) when mixed AD+DLBD cases were eliminated. Clinical features that occur more frequently in DLBD than in AD were unspecified hallucinations, unspecified EPS, fluctuating course and rapid progression. Post-hoc analysis also indicated that hallucinations and EPS were more common early in the disease course of DLBD than in AD. Empirically derived criteria, formulated using the most prevalent clinical features, demonstrated sensitivity values of 57-96% for pure forms and 43-91% for mixed forms.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that additional improvements in the established criteria for DLBD are needed. Our empirically derived criteria enhanced the distinction of DLBD from AD while allowing the clinician the choice of maximizing sensitivity with acceptable specificity, and vice versa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / classification
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Autopsy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hallucinations
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease / classification
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity