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There is not a single, comprehensive test for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. By ruling out other conditions through a process of elimination, doctors can identify Alzheimer's disease with approximately 90% accuracy. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is through autopsy.
Examination and evaluation are essential in determining whether the dementia is the result of a treatable illness. In addition to a complete medical history and extensive neurological motor and sensory exam, evaluation for Alzheimer's disease may include some of the following:
Mental status test: this is a brief and simple test of memory and cognitive or thinking skills—it is usually part of a complete neurological exam.
Electroencephalogram (EEG): a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity using electrodes attached to the scalp
Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan): a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the head or other body areas
Genetic testing: Some genetic testing is available, especially in some research settings. Because there is no cure for Alzheimer's, the decision to undergo genetic testing is one that requires careful consideration and counseling with a specialist in genetics.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.