SHOULD PEOPLE HAVE SPINAL TAPS TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Alzheimer’s disease may now be diagnosed by looking in cerebrospinal fluid for something called ‘biomarkers.’ When elevated these markers indicate the presence of the condition. But the big problem is having to undergo a spinal tap to obtain the sample. Constantine Lyketsos, an Alzheimer’s expert at Johns Hopkins, says the test is not ready for prime time.
LYKETSOS: So should we be having spinal taps now that we have these interesting new biomarkers? The answer is no because we wouldn’t know quite what to do with the information. Probably just upset people if the information is bad. These new biomarkers primarily have value for research, they’ll help us get drugs for Alzheimer’s faster but it’s not clear that we should be using them clinically although there are some reasons to think that in people who have mild memory symptoms these tests might help us predict who’s going to get dementia in the next year or two. :30
At Johns Hopkins, I ’m Elizabeth Tracey.