MRI May Help with Early Detection of Alzheimer's

April 11, 2011

MRI could help detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage - before irreversible damage has been done, according to the second recent study to examine MRI use for Alzheimer’s.

MRI could help detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage - before irreversible damage has been done, according to the second recent study to examine MRI use for Alzheimer’s.

For this study, published online and in the June edition of Radiology, researchers looked at elderly people with normal cognitive ability to see if automated brain volume measurements on MRI could predict future memory decline.

“One of the things that made our study novel was that we looked at patients who were cognitively normal at baseline, rather than people with mild cognitive impairment,” said lead author Gloria C. Chiang, MD, radiology resident at University of California San Francisco.

Researchers assessed 149 participants with an initial baseline MRI scan and a neuropsychological assessment. Follow-up exams two years later showed that 25 of the participants, 17 percent, had memory decline.

The study looked at volume changes across several regions of the temporal and parietal lobes, unlike previous research that has looked mainly at the medial temporal lobe of the brain.

According to researchers, the predictive accuracy of the classification model increased with the exapanded number of brain regions included in the model. Models examining several areas of both lobes had an 81 percent accuracy rate when it comes to distinguishing between cognitively normal people and those without memory decline.

“Our study showed that volume loss in multiple regions that may be interconnected had a greater impact on memory decline. We found that automated temporal and parietal volumes identified those at risk for future memory decline with high accuracy,” Chiang said in a statement.

Another study in the June issue examined how using MRI may help researchers predict which adults are likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.