The 6th Human Amyloid Imaging Conference held in Florida last month debated the ethical issues surrounding the use of amyloid imaging to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease. Research clinicians can now peer inside the living brain using a PET scan to see senile plaques that were once evident only at autopsy. These scans may be approved for more routine clinical use and if that happens, doctors may order amyloid scans for their patients, and some people may demand them. However, as the researchers discussed it is unclear exactly what a positive scan means for a cognitively normal person. The questions that are now being discussed are:
- Should cognitively normal people be told if they test positive for amyloid in the brain?
- Should they even be scanned?
- How about people with subtle memory problems?
- Should only specialists or also primary care physicians be able to order an amyloid scan?
These are clearly issues that we have to wrestle with – what do you think?