Alzheimer’s Confirmation

Anyone exhibiting symptoms of dementia should have a thorough multi-disciplinary assessment. When done well, this clinical diagnosis has an accuracy rate of over 90 percent. Why not 100 percent?

Currently there is no simple test for Alzheimer’s in a living person. The clinical process of diagnosis is one of excluding other issues until the only options left are progressive degenerative dementias of the Alzheimer’s type. While researchers are actively pursuing a clean diagnostic test for AD, at present a definitive diagnosis is only available when brain tissue is examined a laboratory, this means at autopsy. For these reason families may be interested in confirming a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease by making arrangements for cranial tissue autopsy at the time of the patient’s death. Autopsy entails two basic activities:

taking or “harvesting” the brain tissue

and the neuropathological exam done in the laboratory.

Most of our patients will pass away in a nursing home or in their own home. The tissue removal can be done in a hospital or at the mortuary. A pathologist’s assistant will travel to the funeral home and remove the tissue. This is done with care and does not interfere with an open casket procedure should the family desire one. The pathologist assistant will then deliver tissue to the lab for neuro-pathology.

Whether the need is immediate or you are interested in planning for an autopsy for your family member, call PathServe at 415-664-9686 for further information.