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Electroencephalography and single photon emission computed tomography in dementia: a comparative study

  • E. P. Sloan (a1), G. W. Fenton (a1), N. S. J. Kennedy (a1) and J. M. MacLennan (a1)


A series of elderly patients with dementia of Alzheimer type (AD), multi-infarct dementia (MID) and functional (non-organic) psychiatric illness (major depressive disorder) were selected according to DSM-III-R criteria and received: a battery of cognitive tests, EEG and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) using 99mTc HMPAO. The EEG and SPECT scans were examined independently of the clinical data. The former were divided into two abnormal categories, those showing AD type change and vascular change respectively, and a normal group. The SPECT scans were classified as follows: a SPECT rCBF pattern showing bilateral temporoparietal perfusion deficits (AD type); those showing single focal perfusion deficits or multiple areas of low perfusion in the cerebral cortex suggestive of ischaemic change (vascular type SPECT picture); a mixed AD/MID pattern; and those with normal scan findings. There were significant associations between clinical diagnosis, EEG rating and SPECT rCBF pattern, approximately three-quarters of AD and MID patients having the predicted EEG and scan changes. Normal EEG recordings were more common in the MID patients. The two tests agreed in about two-thirds of cases, with no consistent pattern apparent in the cases with divergent findings. Each test misclassified a minority of dementia patients, but in only one patient were both investigations normal. Almost half of the so called ‘functionally ill’ patients had abnormal rCBF changes, showing mainly vascular changes while one-fifth had abnormal EEGs.


Corresponding author

1 Address for correspondence: Professor George W. Fenton, Department of Psychiatry, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, DD1 9SY.


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