First in Nation Offering PET Scan for Alzheimer’s Disease
On June 1, 2012, Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove was the first imaging center in the Delaware Valley and the first in the nation to offer patients PET Scan with Amyvid™, the radioactive agent which can indicate the presence or absence of certain plaques in the brain as part of an evaluation to determine if a patient has the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease or other causes of cognitive decline. Amyvid was FDA approved in April 2012.
The positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer known as Amyvid, AV-45 or florbetapir F18 is used to evaluate the presence or absence of moderate to frequent levels of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of patients with cognitive impairment being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of cognitive decline. During the test, which takes approximately 60 minutes start-to-finish, Amyvid binds to beta-amyloid plaques which can be detected in conjunction with PET scan images of the brain. Three women are scheduled to have the scan today.
It is recommended that the test be used in conjunction with other diagnostic tools such as neuropsychiatric testing, physical examination, family history and basic cognitive testing. Although autopsy remains the only positive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and there is no treatment to halt the disease, being able to identify the beta-amyloid plaques is a big step forward.
This news comes on the heels of the May announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of a national plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease and find effective treatment and prevention methods by 2025. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 90 percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s has been discovered in the last 15 years.
“We are excited to be able to provide patients and physicians with this test so they can have additional knowledge when dealing with issues of cognitive decline,” said Rajan Agarwal, M.D.,* a radiologist on staff at Abington Memorial Hospital, who will administer the tests. Agarwal has successfully completed a special training program to handle Amyvid and interpret scans obtained using the new radiotracer.
Mary T. Hofmann, M.D., chief, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Abington Memorial Hospital, says, “Every day we work with patients and families concerned with cognitive decline. This new test will add to our knowledge and will be another tool in our armamentarium for a more complete evaluation.” Hofmann adds that future scans will be offered in conjunction with counseling, as is done with HIV and genetic testing.
Currently, health insurance does not cover this scan so patients must pay out of pocket. About five million Americans already have Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers are expected to soar as Baby Boomers age. The Alzheimer’s Association says the annual cost of Alzheimer’s to the United States could increase from $200 million in 2012 to more than $1 trillion by 2050.
Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove
The mission of Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove is to provide our community with state-of- the-art medical imaging to assist in the diagnosis of disease in a caring and compassionate manner. Services are provided in an environmentally friendly facility which promotes a tranquil and serene setting. The center is certified under the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for Commercial Interiors. Accredited by the American College of Radiology, the facility has state-of- the-art medical technology including a Philips Medical Gemini Time of Flight PET/CT scanner. Montgomery County Advanced Medical Imaging (MCAMI), LLC is the owner and operator of Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove.
Abington Memorial Hospital
Abington Memorial Hospital, (a partial owner in Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove) is home to the Neurosciences Institute and the Muller Institute for Senior Health. These centers provide a full array of services for people facing neurological and senior health issues. Abington Memorial Hospital is a 665-bed, acute care teaching hospital with a medical staff of more than 900 physicians and more than 5,600 employees. These professionals provide medical care and health services to residents of Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
*In addition to his work as a radiologist at Abington Memorial Hospital, Lansdale Hospital and Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove, Dr. Rajan Agarwal is a paid consultant to Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Amyvid. He teaches others how to use and interpret Amyvid PET scans.
For more information, please call Abington PET/CT of Willow Grove at 215-481-3377.