I heard that a PET scan can confirm if someone does have Alzheimers, does anyone know if this is true. I was told my Mom had Alzheimers or Vascular dementia, but they were not sure which. I am taking my Mom back to the neurologist on Feb. 19th and wondered if I should demand a PET scan or is it just me still not wanting to believe my Mom has this terrible disease.
It is my understanding that a PET scan can differentiate between Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders. I would encourage you to request this testing for your mom. It will ease your mind and help the doctors with treatment options. I wish you and your mom well.
I am not sure if they can tell the difference between various Dementias such as Alzheimer's and Pick's and Vascular. Maybe they can. Ask first, before you have the testing done, and then another questrion comes up: is there any difference in treatment of patients with the various different forms of Dementia? If not, what exactly is the point of labelling? Perhaps different drugs work better (or not at all) for certain types of the illness?
I would clarify everythng with the doctor, then probably go ahead and have it done.
What you have probably heard is that there is research in Finland that enables neurologist to diagnose Alzheimer's from a 90 minute PET scan along with an injection of a chemical "marker" known as carbon 11-labeled Pittsburgh Compound B, which binds to the beta-amyloid deposits in the brains that are associated with ALZ. It is a new use of the PET technology which was reported in late 2008 with the comment that large scale studies were needed. I don't know if it is used in any standard practice now or how wide spread it could be but it is a promise for the future at least. The interesting thing about this procedure is that it can diagnose the disease before symptoms appear, which is when the current drugs work the best.
I did find it interesting that these test showed amyloid plaques formed by Alzheimers appearing first in the frontal cortex areas, then progressing to the parietal and temporal cortex before ravaging the occipital and sensory-motor cortex. This may explain why memory and judgment are often the brain functions first affected with the onset of the disease. It is the first scientific research to prove what we already know
An MRI scan can show the decrease in brain mass that goes along with Dementia but I don't think they can determine what kind of dementia it is yet. Unless they have a past MRI they can only compare it to a standard and that is not very accurate for diagnosis. You can ask the doctor about the PET scan but he will probably tell you that the technology for doing what you want done is at least a few years in the future. PET scans are lengthy and very expensive, much more so than the more common MIR.
This is my second visit to this board and I can not begin to tell you how thankful I am for finding all of you. Your knowledge has been so helpful and you are so wonderful to answer my questions. My stress is at the max and I truly believe the good Lord helped me to find this site. I can not say thank you enough. I will talk to the Doctor and see what he has to say. I guess all the test and wishing will never take this ugly disease away from my Mom.
I think your initial post said it all. Don't know why you need a PET maybe its because you are unable to accept your Mom has this dreaded disease.
First signs you would probably see and just think is forgetfulness may be:
putting a pot on the stove with the flame but nothing's in it.
forgetting to shut the stove off
Letting water run for no reason and forgetting to turn it off while being outside raking leaves.
Driving down a one-way street in the wrong direction
Not paying bills
The short-term memory is the first to go -- over time other aspects start to be impacted as well. Aricept and Namenda are two medicines which when given early could slow the progress -- it doesn't stop the progress from happening. Slowing it means that what could take a few months to fail, may take a year or more to fail so they give this to people early in the disease.
However, some people have had negative reactions to Namenda or even Aricept so you have to make sure you are observant and bring it to the doctor's attention right away -- adjustments in medications may be possible but there isn't that many different ones on the market.
If you don't have a POA (power of attorney) and a MPOA (Medical Power of Attorney) as well as having a Living Will or Living Directive from your Mom for your Mom, try to get that done as soon as possible.
We're going to send 'towels' your way. Hang on , it will be a long road. If you have siblings, bring them into this mix as well, We're all testatment that you can't do this alone!!!
CAJ, we are all where you are. We all have loved ones affected by this monster of a disease and the frustration is monumental. I was a basket case when I wandered on this board. It was late, Mom and Dad were both acting out, and I needed to contact with somebody, anybody. Little did I know that almost 2 years later these ladies would still be my lifeline to sanity. Post more often. It is a great place to let out the frustration, fine encouragement and information, and to just know that you are not alone in the journey.
Nobody wants to accept that fact that their loved one has been diagnosed with a fatal diease that is horribly debilitating, can last 10 years, and has no cure or way to make it better. Even with Cancer there is hope. It takes a while to wrap our minds around such a diagnosis because it is so devistating. Even now I have moment of wishing it wasn't so but it is. So search for your answers but at the same time search for information that will help you get through this disease. For me, knowledge is a good thing. The more I understand the better off I am in handling whatever comes my way.