F’ville’s Trident Medical Imaging first in Georgia to provide new imaging test to identify early Alzheimer’s disease

AmyvidTM PET scan performed at Trident Medical Imaging – Fayette accurately identifies the presence of Alzheimer’s-causing plaques in the brain.

Fayetteville’s Trident Medical Imaging announced in July that it has performed a specialized PET scan on a patient to determine the presence of the amyloid plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

This test — known as AmyvidTM (Florbetapir F-18) Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan — is the first performed in Georgia since the FDA announced the approval of AmyvidTM in April.

Previously, physicians have had to rely on clinical assessments like cognitive tests, blood tests, family history, and a variety of other examinations to make an educated guess whether a person has the disease.

Other types of dementia like that resulting from a small stroke, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or even depression, can have symptoms that mimic Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, until now, the only definitive test for Alzheimer’s was autopsy.

“It’s important to determine the specific cause of the patient’s symptoms in order to treat him or her appropriately,” said William C. Lavely, M.D., of Trident. “The appearance of the brain on the AmyvidTM PET scan can help us determine if the protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease are present. And now we have more options for treating Alzheimer’s disease and certain other dementias than we had a few years ago, so it helps to begin that therapy as soon as possible.

“Many of the conventional testing techniques require comparison of results over months, and even years, to determine if a patient’s memory or other symptoms worsen,” Lavely added.

“The data from the clinical trials for AmyvidTM was so compelling in terms of sensitivity, specificity and accuracy, which is why this is the first PET radiopharmaceutical that has been approved by the FDA in over a decade,” said Fred Stuvek, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Trident.

“The problem with Alzheimer’s treatment right now is patients have had to wait until the dementia worsens in order to be certain about the diagnosis; and unfortunately later treatments are not as effective. This is no longer the case since AmyvidTM PET scans provide earlier, more definitive diagnoses, which will assist physicians in treating patients more effectively,” Stuvek said.

The overall accuracy of the AmyvidTM PET scan to identify the presence of the amyloid plaque in the brain is over 95 percent, according to the drug’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly.

It is that unprecedented accuracy, and AmyvidTM PET’s ability to provide immediate results, that have physicians, patients, and the patients’ family members hopeful that they can get an early, specific diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease. Now, more of them will know what type of treatment to pursue, if lifestyle changes should be implemented, and whether to make long-term arrangements, Stuvek said.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes declines in memory, cognition and functioning. About 10 percent of Americans over 65, and half of all people over 85, have the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Those numbers are expected to increase as more baby boomers reach their elderly years. The cause of the disease is still unknown, although most researchers believe there are genetic and lifestyle influences.

A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan is a medical imaging procedure that provides early detection capabilities by mapping the body’s function, at the cellular level.

The AmyvidTM PET scan is performed on an outpatient basis, lasting about an hour and a half. It is painless and has no side effects.

In a single non-invasive procedure, the image shows early biological activity, often before changes occur in the anatomy or structure of the body, and sometimes before symptoms are evident.

Recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Journal of American Medical Association have shown that PET can improve diagnosis, staging, treatment and monitoring of various cancers, neurological disorders and cardiac diseases.

Trident Medical Imaging is a limited liability corporation wholly owned and operated by Trident Molecular Imaging, LLC, (TMI), www.tridentmedicalimaging.com. TMI, founded in September 2003, is a privately held, independent imaging center management company, with three PET Imaging facilities in Georgia: Lawrenceville, Fayetteville, and Savannah. AmyvidTM is a trademark of Eli Lilly and Company.