Brain scans to diagnose dementia

a grey model of a human brain

There are several types of brain scans to diagnose dementia by doctors which include;

  • CT or CAT scans are a way of taking pictures of the brain using X-rays and a computer. The full name for a CAT scan is computerised axial tomography
  • MRI scans create an image of the brain using radio signals produced by the body in response to the effects of a very strong magnet contained within the scanner.The technical name for an MRI scan is magnetic resonance imaging.
  • SPECT scans measure the blood flow through the brain rather than  look at the structure of the brain.

CT and MRI scans may show brain shrinkage and SPECT and PET scans  may show areas of loss of function. Memory tests can also show problems in particular areas. The pattern of these changes helps to diagnose the cause of the dementia.

However a scan that shows no unexpected changes in the brain does not rule out conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease because in the early stages of the disease the changes can be difficult to distinguish from normal ageing.

Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

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