Measuring brain tissue damage accurately identifies cognitive decline, researchers say

Oct. 27 (UPI) — By analyzing brain tissue damage using a new MRI evaluation tool, researchers accurately identified people with early signs of cognitive decline up to 70% of the time, a study published Tuesday by the journal Academic Radiology found.

The approach uses magnetic resonance imaging to identify — and measure the number and size — of bright spots on the mostly gray images of the brain called white matter hyperintensities, or lesions, the researchers said.

These spots have long been linked to memory loss and emotional problems, especially as people age. Now, newly available MRI technologies could make it possible for them to be used for diagnosis of dementia, the researchers said.

“White matter lesion captured by MRI scans may reveal cognitive decline much earlier than behavioral symptoms,” study co-author Jingyun “Josh” Chen told UPI.

“Amounts of white matter lesions above the normal range should serve as an early warning sign for patients and physicians,” said Chen, a research assistant professor of neurology at New York University Langone Health.

Roughly 6 million adults in the United States have dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Although the condition is common, it remains challenging to accurately diagnose, and no effective treatments exist, according to Chen and his colleagues.

The bright spots seen on MRI scans represent fluid-filled holes in the brain — lesions that are believed to develop from the breakdown of blood vessels that nourish nerve cells.

Earlier research has shown that increased numbers of spots and their presence in the center of the brain is linked with worsening dementia and other brain-damaging conditions, such as stroke and depression.

Current methods for grading white matter lesions, however, rely on little more than the “trained eye” using an imprecise three-point scale, according to the researchers.

The new tool, called the white matter hyperintensities toolbox and developed by Chen and his colleagues at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, is intended to provide neurologists with a uniform, objective method for calculating the spots’ volume and location in the brain.

For this study, Chen and his colleagues randomly selected 72 MRI scans from a national database of adults age 70 and older who participated in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a research project seeking to identify clinical, imaging, genetic and biochemical biomarkers for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease.

Using MRI techniques to map the brain’s surface, the researchers then used the new tool to calculate the precise position and volume measurements for all observed white matter spots or lesions.

When researchers cross-checked their measurements, they found that seven out of 10 calculations correctly matched the patient’s actual diagnosis.

With the standardized tracking and measuring tool, physicians could monitor the growth of white matter lesions in patients with suspected dementia, the researchers said.

White matter brain measures alone are not sufficient to diagnose early dementia, Chen said, but should be considered along with other factors. This includes a history of brain injury, memory loss and hypertension, as well as clear symptoms

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Parents claim son suffers irreparable damage after trip to the dentist

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – The parents of a two-year-old said their child was left in crippling agony after a trip to the dentist office earlier this week.

a woman sitting on a bench: Chance Roberson with his mom and dad after coming home from the hospital.

© Provided by Huntsville-Decatur WAFF
Chance Roberson with his mom and dad after coming home from the hospital.

What was expected to be a routine cleaning ended with a child hospitalized and the parents taking legal action.

Two-year-old Chance had his first cleaning when the hygienist told his parents he had decay on his front teeth. They were told four silver crowns were needed to prevent future problems.

The parents agreed but said what happened in the exam room was something they never expected.

“His mouth had completely swollen up,” said Monica Roberson. “There was so much bruising, I took him to the emergency room directly after leaving there.”

Chance Roberson is on the mend, but his parents are still looking for an explanation. “They got mid-way through the process and said they can’t do any more and left them as they were because they filed them down too far.”

Monica and Donavyn took their two-year-old son to see a dentist at Children’s Dentistry of Huntsville. They were told Chance needed four caps for his four front teeth.

“The nurse kept saying, I don’t understand we don’t normally do procedures on children this small,” said Donavyn Larry. “It is not our specialty. I kept thinking why are you doing it then?”

Unaware to the parents, Chance also needed a root canal due to tooth decay.  “The whole process was just uncomfortable for everybody. You could tell it was kind of a panic situation when they realize they couldn’t do anything,” said Roberson.

A family member posted photos following the procedure on social media where they were shared more than one-thousand times.  The family also hired attorney Will League to represent them.

He told us, “This case falls under the Alabama Medical Liability Act.  The applicable standard of care requires proof, through expert testimony, that no reasonable dentist would have done what this dentist did.  The standard of care also requires the physician or dentist to fully explain the procedure along with its risks and benefits to the patient and obtain consent to proceed.”

We reached out to Children’s Dentistry of Huntsville. The office manager told me no one in the office would be available to comment due to the ongoing legal action.

I also reached out to the UAB Dentistry School and other pediatric dentists in the area, but no one felt comfortable commenting on the situation without first reviewing patient records.

A dentist who did not want to go on camera said root canals are one of the most common treatments performed on baby teeth. The procedure is typically performed on a tooth that has been infected, usually a result of tooth decay.

“I know you need to have some of the teeth grind down when you put a cap in but nothing to that severity. No, I wasn’t aware of

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