March 8, 2016
Amyloid plaques build up on one side of the brain, responsible for language and communication, in patients with primary progressive aphasia, or PPA, a finding researchers said will help in diagnosing and treating the condition.
Researchers at Northwestern University found the plaques build up primarily on the left side of the brain using a new type of positron emission topography, or PET, scans that detect amyloids.
A combination of computed tomography, or CT, scans and cognitive memory or language tests have typically been used to diagnose Alzheimer's and other dementia-type conditions. The method has been somewhat effective in diagnosing patients, though the only way to confirm the disease is examination of the brain after death.
The new method of PET scans, demonstrated in studies at Lund University last year and at the University of California Berkeley this year, suggests doctors may soon have a more reliable method of diagnosing and monitoring progression of dementia in patients while they are alive.