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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2003 Feb;47(Pt 2):90-100.

Magnetic resonance imaging, Down's syndrome and Alzheimer's disease: research and clinical implications.

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The Greenfields, Monyhull Hospital, Kings Norton, Birmingham, UK.



The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) remains at times difficult to make using available neuropsychological measures. Neuro-imaging is a relatively new form of detecting the changes associated with dementia. The present study investigated the role of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing AD in adults with Down's syndrome (DS).


Subjects with DS and Alzheimer-type dementia were matched to non-demented controls with DS. Magnetic resonance imaging findings (i.e. volumetric and two-dimensional scans) were compared between the two groups in order to show a relationship between the changes of AD and structural MRI abnormalities.


Specific structural abnormalities which are seen in non-intellectually disabled subjects with dementia are also found in individuals with both DS and AD. However, such findings cannot be used to diagnose clinical AD with good accuracy in adults with DS. A number of practical issues of patient compliance and over-sedation are demonstrated by the findings.


Magnetic resonance imaging has an important but limited role to play in the management of AD in the population with DS. If intravenous sedation is used, medical support is essential to prevent a serious mishap.

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