Brain PET in suspected dementia: patterns of altered FDG metabolism

Radiographics. 2014 May-Jun;34(3):684-701. doi: 10.1148/rg.343135065.


The diagnosis of dementia syndromes can be challenging for clinicians, particularly in the early stages of disease. Patients with higher education levels may experience a marked decline in cognitive function before their dementia is detectable with routine testing methods. In addition, comorbid conditions (eg, depression) and the use of certain medications can confound the clinical assessment. Clinicians require a high degree of certainty before making a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease or some other neurodegenerative disorder, since the impact on patients and their families can be devastating. Moreover, accurate diagnosis is important because emerging therapeutic regimens vary depending on the cause of the dementia. Clinically based testing is useful; however, the results usually do not enable the clinician to make a definitive diagnosis. For this reason, imaging biomarkers are playing an increasingly important role in the workup of patients with suspected dementia. Positron emission tomography with 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose allows detection of neurodegenerative disorders earlier than is otherwise possible. Accurate interpretation of these studies requires recognition of typical metabolic patterns caused by dementias and of artifacts introduced by image processing. Although visual interpretation is a vital component of image analysis, computer-assisted diagnostic software has been shown to increase diagnostic accuracy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Dementia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18* / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Positron-Emission Tomography* / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals* / pharmacokinetics
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18