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Different types of dementia may be hard to diagnose

As some North Carolina residents know, Alzheimer's disease is being diagnosed at an ever-increasing rate. However, there may be many instances where this diagnosis is incorrect.

One type of dementia is referred to as frontotemporal lobar degeneration. It results in atrophy of both the temporal and frontal parts of the brain. This early dementia affects individuals at a younger age and causes about 10 percent of cases. It occurs as often as Alzheimer's in patients under the age of 65 and is subject to being erroneously diagnosed as that disease.

There are several types of dementia that exist under the label of FTLD. They differ as to the type of symptoms they produce and the results seen on imaging studies. One is the behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. This type causes change in behavior patterns. It was formerly called Pick's disease. Accounting for about 60 percent of non-Alzheimer's dementia, bvFTLD results in disappearance of social skills.

Another type of FTLD is one that affects language. An offshoot of this variant is called semantic variant PPA. It causes problems in identifying faces known to the patient as well as places on occasion. Language problems can be severe. The way clinicians diagnose dementia may rest on imaging studies. Neuroimaging of FTLD patients shows atrophy in the frontal area of the brain as well as the anterior temporal area. This atrophy is not symmetric. Semantic PPA is displayed in multiple areas of the brain.

A failure to diagnose a disease can result in delayed treatment and a worsened medical condition. Patients or their family members who have been harmed in such a manner may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney in order to review their options.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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