Rationale and objectives: Functional imaging studies such as 18F-fluoro-18-labeled-deoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (18FDG-PET) are being used increasingly in the evaluation of patients with dementia. The authors evaluate inter- and intraobserver interpretation agreement in a diverse group of patients with clinically diagnosed dementia and subjective memory complaints, as well as two healthy control subjects.
Methods: Ninety-six patients with clinical diagnoses of probable Alzheimer's disease (n = 18), possible Alzheimer's disease (n = 33), dementia (n = 26), and mild memory impairment (n = 17), as well as two healthy control subjects were studied using 18FDG-PET. Three observers graded all studies for regional 18FDG uptake in the temporal, parietal, and frontal regions bilaterally. The studies also were interpreted for the presence of bilateral temporoparietal hypometabolism, which typically is present in Alzheimer's disease. The kappa statistic was used to determine intra- and interobserver agreement for regional 18FDG uptake and bilateral temporoparietal hypometabolism.
Results: There was excellent intraobserver (kappa = .56, P < 0.0005) and interobserver (kappa = .51, P < 0.0005) interpretation agreement for bilateral temporoparietal hypometabolism. There also was excellent intraobserver (kappa = .61, P < 0.000) and interobserver (kappa = .55, P < 0.000) interpretation agreement of regional 18FDG uptake. Interobserver agreement was extremely high in those patients who were considered clinically to have possible (kappa = .42, P < 0.001) or probable (kappa = .42, P < 0.01) Alzheimer's disease.
Conclusions: Results confirm that bilateral temporoparietal hypometabolism is the metabolic abnormality associated with the diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, intra- and interobserver agreement of visual interpretation of 18FDG-PET images indicates that 18FDG-PET is acceptable as an imaging technique in the clinical evaluation of the dementia patient.