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Diagnostic Tests for Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease: Diagnostic Tests

The list of diagnostic tests mentioned in various sources as used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease includes:

Home Diagnostic Testing

These home medical tests may be relevant to Alzheimer's Disease:

Tests and diagnosis discussion for Alzheimer's Disease:

Alzheimer's Disease: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Doctors at specialized centers can diagnose probable AD correctly 80-90 percent of the time. They can find out whether there are plaques and tangles in the brain only by looking at a piece of brain tissue under a microscope. It can be painful and risky to remove brain tissue while a person is alive. Doctors cannot look at the tissue until they do an autopsy, which is an examination of the body done after a person dies.

Doctors may say that a person has "probable" AD. They will make this diagnosis by finding out more about the person's symptoms. The following is some information the doctor may need to make a diagnosis:

  • A complete medical history: The doctor may ask about the personís general health and past medical problems. He or she will want to know about any problems the person has carrying out daily activities. The doctor may want to speak with the personís family and friends to get more information.

  • Basic medical tests: Tests of blood and urine may be done to help the doctor eliminate other possible diseases. In some cases, testing a small amount of spinal fluid also may help. In addition, scientists are busy trying to develop a test to diagnose AD that will be easy and accurate.

  • Neuropsychological tests: These are tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language. They will help the doctor pinpoint specific problems the person has.

  • Brain scans: The doctor may want to do a special test, called a brain scan, to take a picture of the brain. There are several types of brain scans including a computerized tomography (CT) scan, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, or a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. By looking at a picture of the brain, the doctor will be able to tell if anything does not look normal. Information from the medical history and any test results help the doctor rule out other possible causes of the personís symptoms. For example, thyroid problems, drug reactions, depression, brain tumors, and blood vessel disease in the brain can cause AD-like symptoms. Some of these other conditions can be treated.

(Source: excerpt from Alzheimer's Disease: NWHIC)

NIA's Progress Report on Alzheimer's Disease, 1998: NIA (Excerpt)

Through the work of many researchers, the diagnosis of AD in living people has become more and more accurate. In specialized research facilities, clinicians now can diagnose AD with up to 90 percent accuracy, as confirmed later at autopsy. The diagnosis includes taking a personal history from patients and their families, doing a physical exam and tests, and administering memory and psychological tests to patients. A team of NIA-funded researchers based at the Harvard University ADC (Solomon et al., 1998) proposed a preliminary 7-minute screening test that might be used to distinguish between people who might have AD and those experiencing normal memory loss. The utility of this screening test has yet to be thoroughly evaluated. (Source: excerpt from NIA's Progress Report on Alzheimer's Disease, 1998: NIA)

Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease: medical news summaries:

The following medical news items are relevant to diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease:


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