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Stroke. 1996 Jan;27(1):30-6.

Comparison of different diagnostic criteria for vascular dementia (ADDTC, DSM-IV, ICD-10, NINDS-AIREN).

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University School of Medicine, L├╝beck, FRG.



Vascular dementia (VD) has been an ill-defined term thus far. Recently detailed criteria for the diagnosis of VD have been proposed (Alzheimer's Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centers [ADDTC], 1992; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition [DSM-IV], 1994; International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision [ICD-10], 1992, 1993; and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke-Association Internationale pour la Recherche et l'Enseignement en Neurosciences [NINDS-AIREN], 1993). Until now the clinical feasibility of these diagnostic guidelines has not been evaluated.


This study aimed to compare these criteria in an unselected sample of 167 elderly patients (mean age, 72.0 +/- 9.9 years) admitted with probable dementia.


The number of cases that could be classified as VD differed widely between the various diagnostic guidelines. According to DSM-IV criteria, 45 cases were diagnosed as VD. Twenty-one cases fulfilled the ICD-10 research criteria, but only 12 met the NINDS-AIREN criteria for VD. Twenty-three cases were classified as ischemic VD as defined by the ADDTC criteria. The concordance was very poor since only 5 cases met the criteria for VD of all diagnostic guidelines.


Our results show that the classification according to different diagnostic guidelines yields rather distinct groups of patients. The reasons responsible for these findings are as follows: (1) different criteria for dementia, (2) limitation to ischemic VD in the ADDTC criteria, (3) no further differentiation of VD into subtypes according to CT or MRI findings (DSM-IV), and (4) the multifactorial etiopathology of VD. Major diagnostic difficulties ensue from the very frequent cases with white matter lesions, since their etiology and classification remain widely unknown.

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