New diagnostic method for Alzheimer's disease

A new MRI method performed in Anadolu Medical Center has taken its place among promising studies for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.  Neurologist of Anadolu Medical Center, Dr. Hale Gokmen tells about the new method which was awarded in National Congress for Alzheimer's in 2015 and gives information about current studies on Alzheimer’s and amnesia.

When should we take amnesia serious?

We may forget something during daily rush.  We may experience small forgetfulness when we are stressful or try to make several things at the same time.  It is useful to be careful in some cases.  So that, the problem may indicate a serious disease like Alzheimer's...Current scientific studies focus on early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.  Because when the disease was noticed lately, an irreversible clinical presentation appears.  The advantage of early diagnosis is that, if the findings indicate Alzheimer's disease, some treatments may decelerate progression of the disease. There is not any definite diagnosis method for Alzheimer's.  Many criteria are brought together and the disease is diagnosed.  However, some changes in the brain should be observed visually to say that one individual has Alzheimer's and means that definite diagnosis is put after cerebral death.  Some therapeutic agents which may be definite treatment are searched in individuals diagnosed with current diagnostic methods; however, no exact treatment exists anywhere in the world. A good news is that the specialists say to find an exact treatment is only a matter of time.  Therefore, newly developed or developing diagnostic methods are very important. 

When should a doctor be referred?

When amnesia starts to affect the daily life or others notice this amnesia requires a medical evaluation.  For instance, if an individual confuses a road or make mistake for money calculation, it is possible to say that amnesia started to reach serious levels.  Mostly, close family members and friends of the individual notice this better.  If they start to undertake some tasks of the individual, problem seems to get worse.  To ask same questions or to ask to tell something told again are examples for the cases that should be taken serious.

A new diagnosis method: “ASL MRI”

When a doctor is referred for amnesia, some tests, blood tests and cerebral MRI may be performed for diagnosis.  However, an imaging method called ASL MRI which is performed for early diagnosis and also applied in Anadolu Medical Center has taken the status to another level.  In fact, this method is a little bit different than conventional MRI and shows the modifications developed on the brain earlier before some losses are experienced.  Furthermore, no agent is administrated into the body during the procedure.  Conventional MRI method may show cerebral tumors, bleeding, vascular obstructions or shrinking on the brain.  Observation of shrinking in the individuals who have amnesia indicates the late term and permanent changes.  ASL MRI may detect some symptoms in the patients who are not as forgetful as to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's (those at minimal cognitive disorder stage). So, it is possible to say this new method may indicate that the amnesia might be serious and progress.  For instance, if a patients has amnesia due to depression or distraction, no changes are detected at this sequence.  This indicates that the new method may differentiate whether amnesia is serous and progressive.  However, since the method is not included into the routine screening, it is a little bit early to evaluate the data definitely.

How alzheimer's progress in the brain?

Pathological agents called amyloid beta starts to accumulate in the brain about 20 years before existence of amnesia problems.  In other words, if a person will have Alzheimer's at 70 years of age, modification starts at 50 years of age, and such modification may be observed by ASL MRI.  Damage of these agents called amyloid beta causes an irreversible destruction on the brain tissue in time.  Therefore, before destruction during accumulation phase of the agents, serious studies are carried out to stop the disease.  Vaccination therapies are prominent for these.

May everybody have ASL MRI?

It is not correct to say that every person with a complaint of amnesia should have ASL MRI.  First, examination and tests should be completed for amnesia.  If the neurologist decides requirement of an examination, it may be applied. Since this procedure is not invasive, no side effects may be discussed. 


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