Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

Synonyms in a broader sense

Alzheimer disease diagnostics, dementia diagnostics, Alzheimer diagnostics

According to ICD-10, the international classification of diseases, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease includes the detection of a dementia syndrome (memory disorder, at least one other cognitive performance disorder, limitation relevant to everyday life) as well as comprehensive exclusion diagnostics. Neuropsychological tests such as the Mini-Mental-State-Examination (MMSE) are suitable for early diagnosis of dementia syndrome. The test records a total of 11 units in 10-15 minutes, covering the functional areas of orientation, memory, speech, and the layered image examination using computer or magnetic resonance imaging (CT and MRT) shows a typical image of shrinkage (atrophy) of the brain, especially in the area of the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, with enlargement of the cavities (ventricles) filled with cerebral fluid (cerebrospinal fluid).

Imaging is important to exclude other causes of dementia syndrome. A relatively new procedure (PET = positron emission tomography) can show a changed energy metabolism of the affected brain areas. PET documents the reduced consumption of glucose in the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes. The EEG is either uncharacteristic or shows a slower basic rhythm.

Differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

It is important to distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other causes of dementia, which may be more easily treatable. These include circulatory disorders of the brain (second most common cause of dementia), infections, storage diseases (e.g. Wilson’s disease), vitamin deficiency, alcoholic-toxic dementia and other brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes there is also a relatively large overlap in the symptom patterns of Alzheimer’s dementia and depression.