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New Technology Promises Better Treatment with Early Detection of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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By Dr. Christopher Riedl, MD, PhD
Dual-Board Certified Nuclear Radiologist
and former Assistant Professor of Radiology
at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
and Petra Lesser

We all fear forgetting. Few things are as valuable or as treasured as one’s mind and one’s memories, core elements of who we are. Many of us have dealt with– or are dealing with– the pain of having a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Too many have had to watch a bright mind dim, have had tender memories forgotten, have seen a loved one become a stranger. These diseases are a frightening prospect, and successful treatment often hinges on early and accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and dementia have a history of being notoriously difficult to diagnose. Luckily, new technology in the field of nuclear imaging (scanning)– specifically PET scanning– is making diagnosis of these diseases easy, safe, and accurate. “With PET/CT scans, we can detect dementia and determine the underlying cause in the earliest stages of the disease,” said Dr. Christopher Riedl (pictured left).

Dr. Riedl is a dual-board certified Nuclear Radiologist and was an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for many years. He is now the medical director of imagingwest, a private PET/CT imaging center right here in Westchester.

These developments couldn’t have come at a better time. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are more pervasive than ever, with the World Health Organization reporting that 55 million people are currently suffering from various forms of dementia, and every year nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed. Dementia is “…currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.” and has “physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia, but also for their carers, families and society at large. (World Health Organization, 2021)” Thankfully, imaging technology has also improved, with major advances in the field over the last 20 years (ten Kate et al., 2018).


“Sometimes, we can see certain changes in the brain that lead us to the right diagnosis many years before you even display symptoms. Not only that, but you can use that information to determine whether the patient has Alzheimher’s or another form of dementia,” Dr. Riedl continued. “In diagnosis and treatment, early knowledge is key, and a PET scan can provide you and your doctor with that extra piece of information that is needed to start you on a treatment that may change your trajectory. Alzheimer’s is a notoriously misdiagnosed disease. It often goes untreated for many years— years in which precious brain function could be saved, since there are effective therapies now.”

But what is a PET scan? PET stands for Positron Emission Technology. It is a brief medical examination that uses low doses of radiation to produce an image that a trained professional can use to examine the body or brain. And when used at a center with the right technology, it is shockingly accurate.

“At imagingwest, for example,” Dr. Riedl says, “we can take that image and use an AI algorithm to compare the activity in the various regions of your brain with the activity that we expect to see in a healthy brain. So if there are even the slightest differences present, differences that might not be visible to the human eye, and these differences are significant, we can determine where the problem areas are and make a reliable diagnosis.”

“I founded imagingwest with the intent of giving patients the most precise diagnosis with the most advanced technology in the field. My staff and I also pride ourselves on delivering the most personalized patient care possible.” Dr. Riedl said. “If you’re not feeling as sharp as you were, take action. The stress of not knowing can be detrimental to one’s health. The best thing one can do if dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is in question is to get a scan. A scan will either alleviate the worry, or help determine the proper treatment. Early detection is the best treatment. ”

Interested in a brain scan in Westchester county? imagingwest is a private imaging clinic specializing in the detection of brain diseases as well as cancer throughout the body. The clinic is located in Hawthorne, New York, at 19 Bradhurst Ave. Suite 1200, Hawthorne, NY 10532

You can reach imagingwest at 914-347-3171 and by email at info@imagingwest.com

CITATIONS:

Fleisher, A.S., Pontecorvo M.J., Devous, M.D, et al. (2020). Positron Emission Tomography Imaging With [18F]flortaucipir and Postmortem Assessment of Alzheimer Disease Neuropathologic Changes. JAMA Neurology, 77(7), 829–839.
https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.0528

Scheltens, P. (2009). Imaging in Alzheimer’s disease. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 11(2), 191-199. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2009.11.2/pscheltens

Pietroboni, A.M., Colombi, A., Carandini, T. et al. (2022). Amyloid PET imaging and dementias: potential applications in detecting and quantifying early white matter damage. Alz Res Therapy, 14(33). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-021-00933-1

Mara ten Kate, M., Ingala, S., Schwarz, A.J. et al. (2018).  Secondary prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia: neuroimaging contributions. Alz Res Therapy, 10(112). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-018-0438-z

Krishnadas, N., Villemagne, V.L., Doré, V. and Rowe, C.C. (2021). Advances in Brain Amyloid Imaging. Seminars in Nuclear Medicine, 51(3), 241-252. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2020.12.005

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Dementia. World Health Organization. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.who.int/news room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia


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