Early diagnosis of dementia: neuroimaging

J Neurol. 1999 Jan;246(1):16-20. doi: 10.1007/s004150050300.


The use of neuroimaging is reviewed in the diagnosis of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease (AD). Computed tomography (CT) may be used to exclude other causes of dementia than AD. The finding of cortical or subcortical atrophy on CT or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) itself does not indicate AD. Hippocampal atrophy on CT/MRI provides a useful early marker, although further longitudinal and neuropathological study is required. CT- and MRI-based measurements of hippocampal atrophy show promise in providing useful diagnostic information for discriminating patients with probable AD from normal elderly individuals. Using a standardized imaging protocol, including some assessment of hippocampal atrophy, can save costs since patients with suspected AD must undergo a cross-sectional imaging study to exclude other (treatable) causes of dementia. Combining an assessment of hippocampal atrophy with cerebral blood flow measurements by single photon emission computed tomography is not warranted either from a clinical or from an economic point of view.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed