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PET scan

Hi, this may seem like an odd question but I'm really having difficulty getting a straight answer from the neurologists I have asked.  I realize that the field is still growing and am comfortable getting the "I just don't know" answer.  Is it POSSIBILE that a head trauma or any other not yet named brain disorder could cause a result on a PET scan similar to alzheimer's.  For example, if  a PET scan result finds lack of function in the area of the brain that is impacted by alzheimer's therefore the diagnosis is "meets criteria for alzheimer's" is it definitely alzheimer's?  The reason I ask is that my mother was diagnosed with early onset a few years ago.  She had been having symptoms for a number of years following a car accident.  There is no history of the disease in our family and my mother shows some inconsistencies with typical alzheimer's cases.  Please understand, I am not in denial of the diagnosis, I just want to feel content with saying my mother is just a rare case instead of constantly questioning the diagnosis.  
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Thanks for your response.  I think the reason the doctors don't take into account the brain injury is because we were not able to tell them if there actually was one.  You see, my mother had a car accident Christmas eve coming from an xmas party.  Basically, she was drunk.  She may or may not have had an injury.  She only remembers getting out of the car and someone from a nearby home standing there.  They had called the police and once my mom was able to communicate the number, my father.  My mother claimed she was fine and that was that.  You see, my father is a political figure so when the police arrived they did not insist on medical treatment or any other action due to my father's position.  However, she was never really the same after the incident.  They determined early onset alzheimer's because of ruling out others and the lack of function in the area of the brain which is usually impacted by alzheimer's.  Seven years ago I was more accepting of the diagnosis because everything seemed to fit however now some things just don't.  I don't know.  Like I previously mentioned, the doctor's really don't seem to have an explanation for some of the atypical symptoms she has.  I thank you again for your response.  Kate  
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Avatar universal
I almost forgot to also mention that sometimes brain injury can LEAD to Alzheimer's, there is a connection.  But still, I think you should talk to the doc who did the diagnosis and ask him the diff between brains of a person with TBI and Alzheimer's, as well as any other differences that has shown up on your mother's records, and point to Alzheimer's rather than some run-of-the-mill dimentia from TBI or a tumor or other problem which might be treatable.
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Avatar universal
Well, the short answer is yes, your mother could just have dementia from a car accident instead of from Alzheimer's, and the PET scan can be used to further distinguish the two, by finding out how the brain is functioning.  One will not necessarily mimic the other.  But mostly docs go by symptoms.  Since you have doubts, you could look into having your mother seen by docs who ONLY treat traumatic brain injury, and see what they come up with.  Also, the physician who came up with the diagnosis, you must sit down with him, pay him for his time as an appointment, and make him explain the differences of head trauma brain injury and Alzheimer's brain injury as seen in scans, history, and tests.  There's a remote possibility he has not looked into the car accident theory, altho most of the time, docs will try to RULE OUT Alzheimer's disease thru labwork and sometimes imaging, plus history, in order to make sure what they're dealing with is indeed Alzheimer's and be able to treat whatever it turns out to be correctly, which I'm sure is your concern.  Sorry I cannot give a definitive or better answer, but if you will understand that docs WANT to find something ELSE besides Alzheimer's as the cause of brain dysfunction, unless they overlooked the car accident history... I mean, one of the ways they figure out if it's Alzheimer's is through a process of elimination.
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