Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia. It currently affects approximately 4 million people in the United States. AD is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the gradual deposition of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, which is thought to occur decades before the onset of clinical symptoms. Identification of people at risk before the clinical appearance of dementia has become a priority due to the potential benefits of therapeutic intervention. Although atrophy of medial temporal lobe structures has been shown to correlate with progression of AD, a growing number of recent reports have indicated that such atrophy may not be specific to AD. To improve diagnostic specificity, new quantitative magnetic resonance (MR) imaging methods are being developed that exploit known pathogenic mechanisms exclusive to AD. This article reviews the MR techniques that are currently available for the diagnostic assessment of AD.
(c) RSNA, 2006.