Most neurologists would use amyloid imaging for Alzheimer's diagnosis

A large majority of neurologists say they would use amyloid imaging in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, if the scan were paid for by health insurance, according to a survey published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The authors--Eran Klein of the department of neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University and Jeffrey Kaye, a neurologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Ore.--surveyed dementia specialists from U.S. medical centers to determine attitudes about amyloid testing. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of an agent for imaging of amyloid plaques to evaluate patients for Alzheimer's disease, whether the test is specific enough has yet to be determined. Still, of the 135 specialists who responded to the survey, 83 percent plan to use amyloid imaging to evaluate patients for Alzheimer's.

Most respondents said they would use amyloid imaging as an adjunct to either rule out (73 percent) or confirm (77 percent) a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Ninety-two percent said that patients should be counseled on the meaning of the results of the exam before the scan takes place. Younger neurologists were more likely to use the scans than their older colleagues.

That said, cost could be a major factor in determining how widespread the use of amyloid imaging becomes, since Medicare and most insurance plans don't cover the procedure.

"As with all new medical technologies, cost will undoubtedly be an important factor in initial uptake of amyloid imaging," Klein said in an announcement. "Nonetheless, it is clear from our survey that experts in the field of dementia currently see clinical value in testing for brain amyloid and plan to add it to their tools for understanding and diagnosing Alzheimer's dementia."

For more:
- see the abstract in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
- see the announcement from the Oregon Health & Science University