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Clin EEG Neurosci. 2009 Apr;40(2):129-42.

Evidence-based evaluation of diagnostic accuracy of resting EEG in dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

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  • 1Karolinska Institute, Department of NVS, Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre, Stockholm, Sweden.


Cognitive impairment is the most frequent chronic condition in the elderly, and dementia is the most disabling form of cognitive impairment in elderly. In the absence of specific and reliable markers of etiologically different dementia syndromes and their preclinical stages, diagnosis in living patients is probabilistic and based on standardized clinical diagnostic criteria. There is still not enough information on the validity of the EEG method in dementia work-up, and an updated evidence-based consensus on appropriateness of this method in the initial evaluation of patients with suspected cognitive disorder and dementia is missing. Using an evidence-based technique we searched for articles on diagnostic accuracy of spontaneous EEG in dementia disorders published from 1980 until June 2008. Inclusion criteria were: original article published in English with 10 or more subjects per diagnostic group, diagnosed according to the established consensus clinical diagnostic criteria used as a "gold standard." In addition, it should have been possible to calculate from the reported results indexes of diagnostic test accuracy: sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios and diagnostic odds ratios. Forty-six articles were retrieved that satisfied eligibility criteria. Thirty-four (74%) studies employed case-control design where study population was recruited from consecutive patients at specialist clinic settings, 12 (26%) were prospective in terms of reported clinical followup of study population. Four (9%) studies used population-based samples and 5 (11%) studies stated in methods the recruitment procedures for patients and healthy subjects. Number of patients included in diagnostic groups and healthy subjects varied in included studies between 10 and 180 and 10 and 171, respectively. Figures on sensitivity and specificity across the studies varied widely. Positive likelihood ratio in studies reporting classification accuracies between Alzheimer's disease and controls ranged between 2.3 and 38.5, and diagnostic odds ratios consequently showed large variations between 7 and 219. In conclusion, despite the wealth of published research and reported high indexes of diagnostic accuracy of EEG, and qEEG in particular, in individual studies, evidence of diagnostic utility of resting EEG in dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is still not sufficient to establish this method for the initial evaluation of subjects with cognitive impairment in the routine clinical practice. Joint effort of preferably multicenter studies using uniform standards should develop optimized methods, investigate added diagnostic value of EEG in clinically established dementia diagnosis and predictive utility of EEG in MCI and questionable dementia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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