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Alzheimers Res Ther. 2013 Jul 8;5(Suppl 1):S4. doi: 10.1186/alzrt200. Epub 2013 Jul 8.

Role of emerging neuroimaging modalities in patients with cognitive impairment: a review from the Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia 2012.

Abstract

The Fourth Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia (CCCDTD4) was held 3 to 4 May 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A group of neuroimaging experts were assigned the task of reviewing and summarizing the literature on clinical and research applications of different neuroimaging modalities in cognitive disorders. This paper summarizes the literature and recommendations made to the conference regarding the role of several emerging neuroimaging modalities in cognitive disorders. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and diffusion tensor imaging are discussed in detail within this paper. Other emergent neuroimaging modalities such as positron emission tomography with novel ligands, high-field MRI, arterial spin labeling MRI and noncerebral blood flow single-photon emission computerized tomography are only discussed briefly. Neuroimaging modalities that were recommended at the CCCDTD4 for both clinical and research applications such as amyloid and flurodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, computerized tomography and structural MRI are discussed in a separate paper by the same authors. A literature search was conducted using the PubMed database including articles in English that involved human subjects and covered the period from the last CCCDTD publication (CCCDTD3; January 2006) until April 2012. Search terms included the name of the specific modality, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and mild cognitive impairment. A separate search used the same parameters but was restricted to review articles to identify recent evidence-based reviews. Case studies and small case series were not included. Papers representing current evidence were selected, reviewed, and summarized, and the results were presented at the CCCDTD4 meeting with recommendations regarding the utility of various neuroimaging modalities in cognitive disorders. The evidence was graded according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine guidelines. Due to the limitations of current evidence, the neuroimaging modalities discussed in this paper were not recommended for clinical investigation of patients presenting with cognitive impairment. However, in the research setting, each modality provides a unique contribution to the understanding of basic mechanisms and neuropathological markers of cognitive disorders, to the identification of markers for early detection and for the risk of conversion to dementia in the at-risk populations, to the differentiation between different types of cognitive disorders, and to the identification of treatment targets and indicators of treatment response. In conclusion, for all of the neuroimaging modalities discussed in this paper, further studies are needed to establish diagnostic utility such as validity, reliability, and predictive and prognostic value. More multicenter studies are therefore needed with standardized image acquisition, experimental protocols, definition of the clinical population studied, larger numbers of participants, and longer duration of follow-up to allow generalizability of the results to the individual patient.

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