"Because both dementia care and amyloid PET technology are in active development, these new appropriate use criteria will require periodic reassessment and updating," Carrillo said.
PET Amyloid Imaging in Alzheimer's – An Overview PET uses radiopharmaceuticals (radioactive drugs) to produce three-dimensional functional images of the brain or other body part. In amyloid PET imaging, the radiopharmaceutical is introduced into the body by injection into a vein and binds specifically to the amyloid protein, enabling visualization of areas in the brain where amyloid has clumped together into plaques. One of the new PET compounds was approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2012.
- If a person with dementia does not have amyloid buildup in their brain, then the cause of the dementia is very likely to be something other than Alzheimer's disease. Other causes of dementia include: strokes, thyroid problems, drug interactions, chronic alcoholism, and vitamin deficiencies.
- If an amyloid imaging PET scan shows that a person with memory impairment has amyloid buildup in their brain, this increases the likelihood that the memory impairment is caused by Alzheimer's disease, but it remains a likelihood, not a certainty.
- If a person without memory complaints or impairment has amyloid buildup, it does not necessarily mean that they will develop Alzheimer's. Many people have amyloid in their brains but are cognitively normal. More research is needed to understand the significance of amyloid plaques in this population.
Amyloid imaging is not covered by insurance at this time, and costs for the scan are "out of pocket." While costs of amyloid PET are not yet established, and PET costs in general can vary depending upon location, other PET scans are known to cost between $1,000 and $3,000, or more. Nonetheless, the AIT concluded that the proven sensitivity and specificity of the new radiopharmaceuticals for brain amyloid and the known association between brain beta amyloid deposition and Alzheimer's suggest these new radiopharmaceuticals could potentially be helpful in the workup and diagnosis of patients with cognitive impairment.
About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, a vital element of today's medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated and helping provide patients with the best health care possible. SNMMI's more than 19,000 members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit www.snmmi.org.About the Alzheimer's Association The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. Visit www.alz.org or call 800-272-3900. SOURCE Alzheimer's Association