How MRIs can help prevent Alzheimer’s misdiagnoses

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2019 | Failure To Diagnose |

Central Iowa residents should know that not all cases of dementia, or memory loss, are due to Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association itself says that up to 40% of dementia cases are caused by other conditions than Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the link is such a strong one that many dementia patients, especially older ones, are diagnosed with the disorder by mistake.

Many cases of memory loss are caused by traumatic brain injuries incurred long ago, and a new UCLA study has found a way to distinguish between the two cases. Researchers analyzed a group of 40 dementia patients, with an average age just under 68, who had suffered a TBI before by putting them through an MRI scan. They found that TBIs and Alzheimer’s affect different regions of the brain.

With TBIs, the most cerebral atrophy was seen in the ventral diencephalon, which is associated with learning and emotions, whereas the hippocampus, which is associated with memory and emotions, saw the least damage. In Alzheimer’s cases, it was the hippocampus that experienced the most atrophy.

The distinction can be found without the need for special imaging, making this a potentially effective way to prevent misdiagnoses. This, in turn, can prevent patients from receiving the wrong treatments and allow them to participate in clinical trials that have a chance of improving their medical care.

Diagnostic errors are a leading cause of medical malpractice claims. When the failure to diagnose a condition leads to patients undergoing unnecessary treatments and incurring harm, filing a claim might reimburse patients for the cost of those treatments, lost wages, pain and suffering and the worsening of their true condition in the meantime. Those who intend to file a claim may want a lawyer by their side, especially for the negotiation stage. Third parties may come in to investigate the case.