Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease and is characterized by preclinical, pre-dementia, and dementia phases. Progression of the disease leads to cognitive decline and is associated with loss of functional independence, personality changes, and behavioral disturbances. Current guidelines for AD diagnosis include the use of neuroimaging tools as biomarkers for identifying and monitoring pathological changes. Various imaging modalities, namely magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and PET with amyloid-beta tracers are available to facilitate early accurate diagnoses. Enhancing diagnosis in the early stages of the disease can allow for timely interventions that can delay progression of the disease. This paper will discuss the characteristic findings associated with each of the imaging tools for patients with AD, with a focus on FDG-PET due to its established accuracy in assisting with the differential diagnosis of dementia and discussion of other methods including MRI. Diagnostically-relevant features to aid clinicians in making a differential diagnosis will also be pointed out and multimodal imaging will be reviewed. We also discuss the role of quantification software in interpretation of brain imaging. Lastly, to guide evaluation of patients presenting with cognitive deficits, an algorithm for optimal integration of these imaging tools will be shared. Molecular imaging modalities used in dementia evaluations hold promise toward identifying AD-related pathology before symptoms are fully in evidence. The work describes state of the art functional and molecular imaging methods for AD. It will also overview a clinically applicable quantitative method for reproducible assessments of such scans in the early identification of AD.
- Alzheimer's disease
- brain imaging