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Younger-onset dementia (YOD) is a dementia of which symptom onset occurs at 65 years or less. There are approximately 27000 people in Australia with a YOD and the causes can range from Alzheimer’s dementia (AD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), metabolic and genetic disorders. It is crucial to obtain a definitive diagnosis as soon as possible in order for appropriate treatment to take place and future planning. Previous research has reported 4-5 years to get a diagnosis (Draper et al. 2016) and factors associated with delay include younger age (van Vliet et al. 2013) and psychiatric comorbidity (Draper et al. 2016). We report on our experience of diagnostic delay.
This was a retrospective file review of 10 years of inpatients from Neuropsychiatry, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia. Neuropsychiatry is a tertiar service which provides assessment of people with cognitive, psychiatric, neurological and behavioural symptoms. Factors such as age of onset, number of services/specialists seen were extracted and analysed using multivariate regression.
Of the 306 individual patients who had a YOD, these were grouped into the major dementia groups (such as AD, FTD, Huntington’s disease, vascular dementia, alcohol-related dementia). The most commonly occurring dementia was AD (24.2%), followed by FTD (23%). There was an average of 3.7 years (SD=2.6), range 0.5-15 years, of delay to diagnosis. Cognitive impairment, as measured using the Neuropsychiatry Unit Cognitive Assessment (NUCOG) was moderate, with a mean score of 68.9 (SD=17.9). Within the groups of dementia, patients with Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) had the longest delay to diagnosis F(11,272)=3.677, p<0.0001, with 6.3 years delay. Age of symptom onset and number of specialists/services seen were the significant predictors of delay to diagnosis F(7, 212)=3.975, p<0.001, R211.6.
Discussion and conclusions:
This was an eclectic group of people with YOD. The results of regression suggests that there are other factors which contribute to the delay, which are not just demographic related. Rarer disorders, such as NPC which present at an early age, and present with symptoms that are not cognitive in nature, can contribute to diagnostic delay.
While early diagnosis of younger-onset dementia (YOD) is crucial in terms of accessing appropriate services and future planning, diagnostic delays are common. This study aims to identify predictors of delay to diagnosis in a large sample of people with YOD and to investigate the impact of a specialist YOD service on this time to diagnosis.
A retrospective cross-sectional study.
The inpatient unit of a tertiary neuropsychiatry service in metropolitan Victoria, Australia.
People diagnosed with a YOD.
Measurements and methods:
We investigated the following predictors using general linear modeling: demographics including sex and location, age at onset, dementia type, cognition, psychiatric diagnosis, and number of services consulted with prior to diagnosis.
A total of 242 inpatients were included. The mean time to diagnosis was 3.4 years. Significant predictors of delay included younger age at onset, dementia type other than Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), and increased number of services consulted. These predictors individually led to an increased diagnostic delay of approximately 19 days, 5 months, and 6 months, respectively. A specialized YOD service reduced time to diagnosis by 12 months.
We found that younger age at onset, having a dementia which was not the most commonly occurring AD or bvFTD, and increasing number of services were significant predictors of diagnostic delay. A novel result was that a specialist YOD service may decrease diagnostic delay, highlighting the importance of such as service in reducing time to diagnosis as well as providing post-diagnostic support.
The perception of music without a stimulus, or musical hallucination, is reported in both organic and psychiatric disorders. It is most frequently described in the elderly with associated hearing loss and accompanied by some degree of insight. In this setting it is often referred to as ‘musical hallucinosis’. The aim of the authors was to present examples of this syndrome and review the current understanding of its neurobiological basis.
We describe three cases of persons experiencing musical hallucinosis in the context of hearing deficits with varying degrees of associated central nervous system abnormalities.
Putative neurobiological mechanisms, in particular those involving de-afferentation of a complex auditory recognition system by complete or partial deafness, are discussed in the light of current information from the literature.
Musical hallucinosis can be experienced in those patients with hearing impairment and is phenomenologically distinct for hallucinations described in psychiatric disorders.
In consultation-liaison settings, neuropsychiatrists are commonly asked to assess patients with hallucinatory syndromes and to differentiate ‘functional’ from ‘organic’ psychotic presentations.
The occurrence and management of visual hallucinations (VH) in healthy individuals, lesion states, neurodegenerative disorders, intoxication/withdrawal states and delirium are reviewed.
The presence of VH has been shown to predict a secondary rather than primary psychotic illness and an understanding of the neurobiology of the visual system – including how and where underlying neurotransmitter systems interact in visual processing and how perturbations can result in VH – allows for appropriate clinical assessment and management.
We describe the presentation of a young woman with long-standing complex partial seizures with occasional secondary generalization, who presented with complex visual hallucinations (CVHs) and delusions.
Routine biological workup including magnetic resonance imaging revealed an area of significant left-sided occipital gliosis. Video telemetry monitoring revealed a left occipital focus for the origin of the electrographic seizure discharge.
CVHs occur in a range of organic states, including epilepsy, and can be understood in terms of the underpinning neuroanatomy and neurotransmitter systems of the visual system.