A neurosurgeon at Melbourne’s Royal Melbourne Hospital has developed a brain scan that allows doctors to analyse the brain’s activity to detect the onset of dementia, and help determine when and how to intervene.
Dr Adam Meakins said the technology could eventually lead to a cheaper and more accurate treatment of the condition.
“It is one of the first brain scans that can be used for Alzheimer, so we are very excited about that,” he said.
“We will be able to detect when someone is at risk of developing dementia, or if they are at risk for other diseases.”
The brain scans can tell you whether they are a high risk for developing dementia or a low risk.
“The first of Meakens three-person team is currently training to provide cognitive assessments for people with dementia.”
This is a very exciting technology, so it’s exciting to be able take it to the next level and actually take this technology to people,” he added.”
I think that the next generation of neurosurgeons will really benefit from this technology because it can give them a very quick and accurate diagnosis.
So if someone has a very slow-moving motor impairment and the brain scans show that there is an increase in blood flow, then that could be a cause of dementia.””
We can potentially use it to make a diagnosis in as little as five minutes,” he explained.
“So if someone has a very slow-moving motor impairment and the brain scans show that there is an increase in blood flow, then that could be a cause of dementia.”
The scan can also be used to test the quality of a person’s memory, as well as to check whether the person has a brain tumour or is suffering from dementia.
He said it was not yet clear how the technology would work with other diagnostic tests, but that it was designed to help detect early dementia.
The Australian Brain Tumor Centre in Adelaide is working with the university to develop a version of the technology, but Dr Meakis said the scans would be used only in conjunction with other existing tests.
“With the Alzheimer’s scan, we are not going to look at a patient’s cognitive functioning, we’re not going the Alzheimer scan in the first place, and that’s a problem,” he told news.com.au.
“But if you have an MRI or a PET scan, it’s very useful to see if you are at increased brain tumor risk.”
Dr Amato said the researchers were also looking at the use of the scan in other areas of medicine, such as in diagnosis of depression, to determine when to treat the condition, and when to stop taking the drug.
“That’s one of our areas of work right now, where we’re going to be looking at how do we get into a more accurate and more reliable way to diagnose people, so that we can identify those at increased risks and help those at risk,” he noted.
Dr Meakin said the scan was not a cure for dementia, but it could help in the treatment of patients who have progressed to the stage of dementia.