Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Predicting Alzheimer's: PET Scan Plus Memory Test Works Best

Combination of Brain Scans and Word-Recall Test Best for Predicting Dementia, but It's Expensive

All Tests Were Predictive

The study participants were followed for nearly two years, during which time 28 received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

All the tests were found to be significant predictors of progression to Alzheimer’s disease, but the combination of word-memory testing and PET scan was more predictive than any single test or other test combination.

The study appears in the June 30 online issue of Neurology. It was jointly funded by the National Institutes of Health and a consortium of pharmaceutical companies.

‘PET Cost Will Limit its Use’

Several previous studies have also concluded that PET scanning may be the best single test for predicting progression to Alzheimer’s. But the cost of the imaging test will limit its use, neurologist Carol F. Lippa, MD, writes in an editorial accompanying the study.

The cost of a PET scan is anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 -- about twice the cost of MRI brain scans.

“One wonders if such extensive testing is realistic for clinical care when physicians are struggling to get their patients’ basic medications covered by insurance,” she writes.

Lippa tells WebMD the goal is to develop less costly predictors of progression to Alzheimer’s that are as good as or better than PET.

“We know this is a really good test,” she says. “But we also know that it is way too expensive to use to screen everybody over a certain age. The main value of PET may be as a reference to compare to new strategies.”

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression