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Medical News & Perspectives
March 20, 2013

PET Imaging for Alzheimer Disease: Are Its Benefits Worth the Cost?

JAMA. 2013;309(11):1099-1100. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.2101

With positron emission tomography (PET), radiologists can now detect human brain β-amyloid plaques, one of the pathological features of Alzheimer disease. Some advocates of PET imaging believe this technology will mean earlier diagnosis and treatment for patients with Alzheimer disease, leading to improvements in quality of life and perhaps even outcomes. But skeptics argue that so far, no rigorous studies show that PET imaging, at a cost of more than $3000 per visit, provides any benefit in patient care and outcomes.