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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1997 May;45(5):579-83.

Frontotemporal dementia versus vascular dementia: differential features on mental status examination.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, USA.



After Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia (VaD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are among the most common dementing illnesses. FTD may have a neuropsychological profile similar to that of VaD, and patients with these dementias may be difficult to distinguish on clinical examination. The purpose of this study was to elucidate distinct cognitive profiles of a large group of FTD and VaD patients on a brief, clinical mental status examination.


A comparison of 39 FTD patients and 39 VaD patients on a brief, clinical mental status examination.


A Dementia Research Center and affiliated, university hospitals.


The FTD patients were diagnosed by noncognitive clinical and neuroimaging criteria, and the VaD patients met NINDS-AIREN criteria for vascular dementia. The two dementia groups were comparable on three dementia assessment scales.


The mental status measures included the neuropsychological battery from the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD), plus supplementation from the Neurobehavioral Cognitive Status Examination (NCSE) for cognitive areas not assessed by the CERAD).


The FTD and VaD groups differed significantly on the mental status examination measures. FTD patients performed significantly better than the VaD patients on digit span and constructions, despite comparable performance by both groups on calculations. Although not statistically significant, the FTD group performed worse than the VaD group on verbal fluency and abstractions. These differences were not explained by group differences in age and education.


These results suggest that cognitive differences between FTD and VaD groups reflect greater frontal pathology in contrast to relative sparing of posterior cortex and subcortical white matter in FTD. These cognitive differences as measured by a mental status examination may help distinguish between these two dementia syndromes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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