Northwest Radiology and JWM Neurology, both located in Indianapolis, are partnering together to offer the first and only FDA-approved diagnostic PET-CT (Positive Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography) tracer for imaging beta-amyloid neuritic plaques in the living brain. For the first time in clinical practice, physicians are now able to utilize PET-CT scanning to see evidence of amyloid plaques (deposits in the gray matter associated with brain degeneration) when evaluating patients for Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of cognitive decline. Currently, only a neuropathological exam (performed during an autopsy) can definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
Called Amyvid (Florbetapir, produced by Eli Lilly), this is a tracer indicated for adults with cognitive impairment who are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of cognitive decline. Amyvid is injected into the bloodstream prior to having the PET-CT scan. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to the amyloid plaques – which are then detected by the PET-CT scanner. The actual scan takes approximately ten minutes. Board Certified Neuroradiologists from Northwest Radiology will interpret the scan, and results will be sent to the ordering physician. Currently, the test is available in Indianapolis only at the Memory Neurology Imaging Center at Meridian North Imaging Center (MNIC). In order to receive the scan, (not currently covered by insurance), a neurologist (or any physician) needs to order the test. “If patients want this scan, they must have a physician order. They cannot self-refer. If they do not have a doctor’s order, they can contact JWM Neurology and one of our physicians will evaluate them to determine if they are proper candidates to have the test. We would then schedule an appointment for them at a later date to discuss the scan results,” says JWM Neurology board certified physician, Sri Jatla, MD.
A negative Amyvid scan indicates that a person has few or no amyloid plaques. This result is inconsistent with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease at the time of testing. This does not preclude a person from developing these amyloid plaques in the future. A positive scan indicates moderate to frequent amyloid plaques – which is consistent with a pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. However, this amount of plaque can also present in other neurological conditions as well as in older adults with normal mental functioning. “Dementia is complicated and involves memory impairment along with additional related deficits that cause significant problems in daily functioning. Nearly 14 percent of Americans over age 70 have dementia – which computes to three million people. Even though Alzheimer’s accounts for 70% of all dementia, it’s important to know that memory problems can also be caused by other medical illnesses, certain medications and even depression. This test is going to be a very important tool in a doctor’s tool box, especially with the aging of the American population,” Jatla says.
“Prior to approving Amyvid for clinical use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required Lilly to develop a standardized reader training process for physicians to ensure as accurate image interpretation as possible. Radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians must complete this training before being allowed to read these examinations. This is the first time the FDA has made such a requirement for an imaging agent,” noted Vincent Mathews, MD, President of Northwest Radiology, who is a neuroradiologist trained to interpret Amyvid brain scans.
For more information about Amyvid, contact JWM Neurology at 317-308-2800 or toll-free, 800-801-0262.