The Challenge of Obtaining an Accurate Diagnosis in FTD

The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration has published a terrific paper explaining the research and drug development landscape in FTD (frontotemporal degeneration).  FTD is an umbrella term that refers to:

  • Behavioral disorders:  Frontotemporal Dementia – Behavioral Variant
  • Language disorders:  Primary Progressive Aphasia (including Semantic Dementia)
  • Movement disorders:  Corticobasal Degeneration and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Here’s a brief excerpt on obtaining an accurate diagnosis.



Excerpt from:

FTD Research and Drug Development Landscape
Published May 2014
Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD)

The Challenge of Obtaining an Accurate Diagnosis in FTD  (page 11)
Misdiagnosis is a major problem for FTD patients and caregivers, and it can contribute to delays in accurate identification of an FTD syndrome. This is due in part to symptoms that appear to reflect aspects of other dementias, such as AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression. A decade-long retrospective survey of patients at a specialty clinic found that patients with bvFTD receive a prior psychiatric misdiagnosis more often (52.2%) than patients with AD (23.1%), svPPA (24.4%) or naPPA (11.8%). BvFTD patients were also more likely than patients with other neurodegenerative diseases to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Although memory loss is considered a distinguishing feature of AD, more papers are
appearing in the literature reporting episodic memory loss in FTD. Although revised diagnostic criteria for bvFTD and PPA were implemented in 2011, considerable expertise with FTD and other cognitive disorders is required and it is less likely that the nonspecialist can readily distinguish FTD from AD or psychiatric disorders. There is an urgent need for blood- or cerebrospinal fluid-based diagnostic markers to complement neuroimaging along with improved medical education to support the family physician in discriminating FTD and AD from other disorders.