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Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Feb;180:144-7.

Dementia with Lewy bodies.

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  • 1Department of Old Age Psychiatry, Institute for the Health of the Elderly, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6BE, UK.



Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a common dementia subtype that has only been recognised in the past decade and that remains widely underdiagnosed.


To review the pathological and clinical features of DLB, to consider methods of investigation and diagnosis, and to recommend safe and effective management strategies.


A selective review was made of the key literature.


Using operationalised criteria, DLB can be clinically diagnosed with an accuracy similar to that achieved for Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. Underdetection is largely due to poor definition of the criterion of cognitive fluctuation. Ancillary investigations, particularly neuroimaging, can aid in differential diagnosis. Extreme caution in the use of neuroleptic medication is advised. Cholinesterase inhibitors may be particularly effective in DLB.


Clinicians should be aware of DLB as part of a spectrum of Lewy body disorders. Neuroleptic sensitivity reactions and good response to cholinergic therapies are important aspects of management.

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