Perfusion SPECT and FDG-PET

Int Psychogeriatr. 2011 Sep;23 Suppl 2:S25-31. doi: 10.1017/S1041610211000937.


Both perfusion SPECT and FDG-PET provide images that closely reflect neuronal activity. There is a characteristic regional impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that involves mainly the temporo-parietal association cortices, mesial temporal structures and to a more variable degree also the frontal association cortex. This pattern of functional impairment can provide a biomarker for diagnosis of AD and other neurodegenerative dementias at the clinical stage of mild cognitive impairment, and for monitoring of progression. FDG-PET is quantitatively more accurate and thus better suited to multicenter studies than perfusion SPECT. Regional metabolic and blood flow changes are closely related to clinical symptoms, and most areas involved in these changes will also develop significant cortical atrophy. FDG-PET is complementary to amyloid PET, which targets a molecular marker that does not have a close relation to current symptoms. Current restrictions in the availability and cost of FDG-PET are being reduced, as oncological FDG-PET is being adopted as a standard clinical service in most countries. Limitations in the availability of trained staff should be overcome by training programs set up by professional organizations. Against the background of the development of new criteria for diagnosing AD before the onset of dementia, FDG-PET is expected to play an increasing role in diagnosing patients at an early stage of AD and in clinical trials of drugs aimed at preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18