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March 27, 2016

Dementia: Seeing it Before the Signs

March 27, 2016

Dementia is a devastating diagnosis. As a loved one’s mind slowly leaves, spouses and family members are faced with an enormous and emotionally wrenching caregiving burden that does not end until the loved one dies. But what if Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia could be detected sooner, allowing for treatments that could delay its effects? In this post to HealthConnection.TV, UT Health Northeast radiologist Dr. Ted Willis discusses some of the latest computer technology that allows physicians to take a look inside a person’s brain and see the earliest evidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other related neurological disorders — before the symptoms begin.


  1. In March 2016, scientists at the University of California at Berkley published research showing that positron emission tomography -- commonly called a PET scan -- can actually track the progressive stages of Alzheimer's disease. How significant is this research?
  2. In simple terms, what is the PET scan seeing that we haven't been able to see before?
  3. Although this diagnostic tool is not yet available clinically, if the research proves to be as valuable as it sounds, what will it mean for the future of diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia?
  4. How far away are we from this diagnostic capability being generally avaialable for clinical use?
  5. UT Health Northeast is approaching the diagnosis of dementias from a different direction. You're using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, and high-tech brain image diagnostic software. Tell us about this.
  6. How does NeuroQuant work?
  7. Describe the type of patients that primary care physicians are referring to you at UT Health Northeast for this advanced MRI?
  8. What information are you able to report to the referring physician to share with the patient and family members?
  9. Alzheimer's and other dementias can't be prevented, cured or significantly slowed. So what are the benefits of being screened by an MRI with the advanced NeuroQuant software?
  10. Is a physician referral necessary in order to be tested using the NeuroQuant technology at UT Health Northeast?
  11. Is this MRI-enhanced brain imaging diagnostic procedure approved by the FDA and is it covered by insurance?

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