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Controversies in Neurology
January 2006

Diagnostic Testing for Dementia: Asking the Right Questions

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Neurology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.



Arch Neurol. 2006;63(1):146-147. doi:10.1001/archneur.63.1.146

New techniques may give answers to questions that have not been asked. When this occurs, physicians may have difficulty determining if the new information is valuable to the patient or valuable in research. Both are important, but it is essential to be able to identify which is which.—J. Willis Hurst

Dementia is a symptom complex, not a disease. There are numerous causes of dementia, and some individuals have more than 1 risk factor.1 Disappointingly, few people with dementia have treatable conditions like vitamin deficiencies or chronic infections, and no one argues against testing for these and other reversible disorders. Sadly, most individuals with progressive dementia do not have reversible diseases, and the debate centers on the value of tests with less obvious practical value.2,3

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