Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

No single test can identify frontotemporal dementia, so doctors attempt to identify certain characteristic features while excluding other possible causes.

Blood tests

To see if your symptoms are being caused by a different condition, such as liver or kidney disease, your doctor may order blood work.

Neuropsychological testing

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.

Brain scans

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.

  • 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.
Jul. 25, 2014

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