No single test can identify frontotemporal dementia, so doctors attempt to identify certain characteristic features while excluding other possible causes.
To see if your symptoms are being caused by a different condition, such as liver or kidney disease, your doctor may order blood work.
Sometimes doctors undertake a more extensive assessment of reasoning and memory skills. This type of testing, which can take several hours to complete, is especially helpful in trying to differentiate between the different types of dementia at an early stage.
By looking at images of the brain, doctors may be able to pinpoint any visible abnormalities — such as clots, bleeding or tumors — that may be causing signs and symptoms.
Nov. 14, 2013
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI machine uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of your brain. You lie on a narrow table that slides into the tube-shaped MRI machine, which makes loud banging noises during scans. The entire procedure can take an hour or more. MRIs are painless, but some people feel claustrophobic in the machine.
- Computerized tomography (CT). For a brain CT scan, you lie on a narrow table that slides into a small chamber. X-rays pass through your head from various angles, and a computer uses this information to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of your brain. The test is painless and takes about 20 minutes.
- Positron emission tomography (PET). PET scans use a small amount of low-dose radioactive material that's injected into a vein to help visualize brain metabolism, which can help identify abnormalities.
- NINDS frontotemporal dementia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/picks/picks.htm. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Miller BL, et al. Frontotemporal dementia: Epidemiology, pathology and pathogenesis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Randolph C. Frontotemporal dementia: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Elman LB, et al. Clinical features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other forms of motor neuron disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Shadlen MF, et al. Evaluation of cognitive impairment and dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Miller BL, et al. Frontotemporal dementia: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Press D, et al. Treatment of behavioral symptoms related to dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Anxiety and agitation. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-agitation-anxiety.asp. Accessed Aug. 16, 2013.
- Caregiver support groups. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-support-groups.asp. Accessed Aug. 16, 2013
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 13, 2013.
- Being a healthy caregiver. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-healthy-caregiver.asp. Accessed Aug. 19, 2013.
- Knopman DS (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 11, 2013.