The appropriate use of neuroimaging in the diagnostic work-up of dementia: an evidence-based analysis.

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The appropriate use of neuroimaging in the diagnostic work-up of dementia: an evidence-based analysis.

Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2014;14(1):1-64

Authors: Health Quality Ontario

BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of dementia is challenging and requires both ruling out potentially treatable underlying causes and ruling in a diagnosis of dementia subtype to manage patients and suitably plan for the future.
OBJECTIVES: This analysis sought to determine the appropriate use of neuroimaging during the diagnostic work-up of dementia, including indications for neuroimaging and comparative accuracy of alternative technologies.
DATA SOURCES: A literature search was performed using Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid Embase, the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database, for studies published between 2000 and 2013.
REVIEW METHODS: Data on diagnostic accuracy and impact on clinical decision making were abstracted from included studies. Quality of evidence was assessed using GRADE.
RESULTS: The search yielded 5,374 citations and 15 studies were included. Approximately 10% of dementia cases are potentially treatable, though less than 1% reverse partially or fully. Neither prediction rules nor clinical indications reliably select the subset of patients who will likely benefit from neuroimaging. Clinical utility is highest in ambiguous cases or where dementia may be mixed, and lowest for clinically diagnosed Alzheimer disease or clinically excluded vascular dementia. There is a lack of evidence that MRI is superior to CT in detecting a vascular component to dementia. Accuracy of structural imaging is moderate to high for discriminating different types of dementia.
LIMITATIONS: There was significant heterogeneity in estimates of diagnostic accuracy, which often prohibited a statistical summary of findings. The quality of data reported by studies prohibited calculation of likelihood ratios in the present analysis. No studies from primary care were found; thus, generalizability beyond tertiary care settings may be limited.
CONCLUSIONS: A diagnosis of reversible dementia is rare. Imaging has the most clinical utility in cases where there is potentially mixed dementia or ambiguity as to the type of dementia despite prolonged follow-up (e.g., 2 years or more). Both CT and MRI are useful for detecting a vascular component of dementia.

PMID: 24592296 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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