Diagnostic Accuracy of MRI and Additional [F-18]FDG-PET for Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia in Patients with Late Onset Behavioral Changes

Everard G. B. Vijverberg, Mike P. Wattjes, Annemiek Dols, Welmoed A. Krudop, Christiane Möller, Anne Peters, Cora J. Kerssens, Flora Gossink, Niels D. Prins, Max L. Stek, Philip Scheltens, Bart N. M. van Berckel, Frederik Barkhof, Yolande A. L. Pijnenburg

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Background: Neuroimaging has a reasonable accuracy to differentiate behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) from other neurodegenerative disorders, its value for the differentiation of bvFTD among subjects with acquired behavioral disturbances is unknown. Objective: To determine the diagnostic accuracy of MRI, additional [18F]FDG-PET, and their combination for bvFTD among subjects with late onset behavioral changes. Methods: Patients with late onset behavioral changes referred to a memory clinic or psychiatric services were included. At baseline, 111 patients had a brain MRI scan and 74 patients received an additional [18F]FDG-PET when the MRI was inconclusive. The consensus diagnosis after two-year-follow-up was used as the gold standard to calculate sensitivity and specificity for baseline neuroimaging. Results: 27 patients had probable/definite bvFTD and 84 patients had a non-bvFTD diagnosis (primary psychiatric diagnosis or other neurological disorders). MRI had a sensitivity of 70% (95% CI 52–85%) with a specificity of 93% (95% CI 86–97%). Additional [18F]FDG-PET had a sensitivity of 90% (95% CI 66–100%) with a specificity of 68% (95% CI 56–79%). The sensitivity of combined neuroimaging was 96% (95% CI 85–100%) with a specificity of 73% (95% CI 63–81%). In 66% of the genetic FTD cases, MRI lacked typical frontotemporal atrophy. 40% of cases with a false positive [18F]FDG-PET scan had a primary psychiatric diagnosis. Conclusion: A good diagnostic accuracy was found for MRI and additional [18F]FDG-PET for bvFTD in patients with late onset behavioral changes. Caution with the interpretation of neuroimaging results should especially be taken in cases with a genetic background and in cases with a primary psychiatric differential diagnosis where [18F]FDG-PET is the only abnormal investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1297
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Behavior
  • MRI
  • PET
  • diagnostic accuracy
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • neuropsychology
  • psychiatric disorders

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