Background: Early-onset dementia patients often present with atypical clinical symptoms, hampering an accurate clinical diagnosis. The purpose of the present study was to assess the diagnostic impact of the amyloid-positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent [18F]flutemetamol in early-onset dementia patients, in terms of change in (confidence in) diagnosis and patient management plan.
Methods: This prospective bi-center study included 211 patients suspected of early-onset dementia who visited a tertiary memory clinic. Patients were eligible with Mini Mental State Examination ≥ 18 and age at diagnosis ≤ 70 years and in whom the diagnostic confidence was <90% after routine diagnostic work-up. All patients underwent [18F]flutemetamol PET, which was interpreted as amyloid-negative or amyloid-positive based on visual rating. Before and after disclosing the PET results, we assessed the diagnostic confidence (using a visual analog scale of 0-100%) and clinical diagnosis. The impact of [18F]flutemetamol PET on the patient management plan was also evaluated.
Results: [18F]flutemetamol PET scans were positive in 133 out of 211 (63%) patients, of whom 110 out of 144 (76%) patients had a pre-PET Alzheimer's disease (AD) diagnosis and 23 out of 67 (34%) patients had a non-AD diagnosis. After disclosure of PET results, 41/211 (19%) diagnoses changed. Overall, diagnostic confidence increased from 69 ± 12% to 88 ± 15% after disclosing PET results (P < 0.001; in 87% of patients). In 79 (37%) patients, PET results led to a change in patient management and predominantly the initiation of AD medication when PET showed evidence for amyloid pathology.
Conclusions: [18F]flutemetamol PET changed clinical diagnosis, increased overall diagnostic confidence, and altered the patient management plan. Our results suggest that amyloid PET may have added value over the standardized diagnostic work-up in early-onset dementia patients with uncertain clinical diagnosis. This study provides evidence for the recommendations put forward in the appropriate use criteria for amyloid PET in clinical practice.
Trial registration: Nederlands Trial Register NTR3743 . Registered 7 December 2012.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Clinical practice; Dementia; Diagnostic impact; Imaging; Positron emission tomography.