By ruling out other conditions through a process of elimination, doctors can identify Alzheimer's disease with approximately '0% accuracy. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is through autopsy.
Examination and evaluation are essential in determining whether the dementia is the result of a treatable illness. In addition to a complete medical history and extensive neurological motor and sensory exam, evaluation for Alzheimer's disease may include some of the following:
Mental status test: this is a brief and simple test of memory and cognitive or thinking skills-it is usually part of a complete neurological exam.
Electroencephalogram (EEG): a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity using electrodes attached to the scalp
Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan): a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the head or other body areas
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan): a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses large magnets and a computer to produce detailed images of the brain or other body organs
Positron emission tomography (PET scan): a diagnostic imaging procedure that helps detect biochemical changes that may indicate the onset of a disease before it shows up in other imaging tests
Positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI scan): a two-in-one imaging procedure that performs PET and MRI scans at the same time, which helps doctors differentiate Alzheimer's Disease from other types of dementia
Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): a procedure performed by inserting a hollow needle into the lower back (lumbar spine)
Genetic testing: Some genetic testing is available, especially in some research settings. Because there is no cure for Alzheimer's, the decision to undergo genetic testing is one that requires careful consideration and counseling with a specialist in genetics.