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

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

Spinal Fluid Test May Diagnose Alzheimer's

Study Shows Proteins Could Help Identify Cases of Alzheimer's Disease

Will Patients Agree to Spinal Tap?

In an editorial accompanying the study, Growdon wrote that measuring amyloid-beta and tau protein levels in spinal fluid is a useful advance in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

But he says it remains to be seen if doctors and patients will embrace a diagnostic test that requires drawing fluid from the spinal region.

The study and editorial appear in the August issue of Archives of Neurology.

"For patients, the procedure is often perceived as painful, difficult to perform, and dangerous," he writes."Even the terms spinal tap and lumbar puncture are threatening; perhaps a more neutral description such as spinal fluid collection, comparable to blood draw, followed by a full explanation of the procedure would be helpful."

Growdon tells WebMD that even if patients do accept the test, most family physicians and internists are not able to provide it.

"It would take a sea change where group practices and hospitals develop lumbar puncture centers like the centers that now provide colonoscopies or brain scans," he says.

Growdon says CSF testing represents an important addition to existing tests for people with mild cognitive impairment and those suspected of having Alzheimer's disease.

It may also be useful for screening healthy older people in the future, once effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease are developed, he says.

The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative is a $60 million, five-year research partnership between public and private interests overseen by the U.S. National Institute on Aging. About two-thirds of the research has been funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

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