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Using visual rating to diagnose dementia: a critical evaluation of MRI atrophy scales
  1. Lorna Harper1,
  2. Frederik Barkhof2,
  3. Nick C Fox1,
  4. Jonathan M Schott1
  1. 1Dementia Research Centre, University College London Institute of Neurology, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Radiology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Lorna Harper, Dementia Research Centre, University College London Institute of Neurology, 8-11 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK; lorna.harper.11{at}


Visual rating scales, developed to assess atrophy in patients with cognitive impairment, offer a cost-effective diagnostic tool that is ideally suited for implementation in clinical practice. By focusing attention on brain regions susceptible to change in dementia and enforcing structured reporting of these findings, visual rating can improve the sensitivity, reliability and diagnostic value of radiological image interpretation. Brain imaging is recommended in all current diagnostic guidelines relating to dementia, and recent guidelines have also recommended the application of medial temporal lobe atrophy rating. Despite these recommendations, and the ease with which rating scales can be applied, there is still relatively low uptake in routine clinical assessments. Careful consideration of atrophy rating scales is needed to verify their diagnostic potential and encourage uptake among clinicians. Determining the added value of combining scores from visual rating in different brain regions may also increase the diagnostic value of these tools.

  • MRI

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