USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute finds amyloid PET scan leading to better Alzheimer’s disease management

The Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is participating in a nationwide study looking at whether Medicare should cover the costly amyloid PET scan

TAMPA, FL (July 24, 2017) — Amyloid build-up in the brain is a crucial component of Alzheimer’s disease. A brain amyloid PET scan can detect the sticky plaque, signaling its severity. But most patients can’t afford it as the scan costs as much as $11,000 out of pocket.

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is participating in the nationwide “Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning” (IDEAS) study. Researchers are investigating the significance of the amyloid-detecting PET scan to help determine if it should be covered by Medicare. That conclusion will be drawn by comparing the patient’s initial management plan to the one created based on data from the amyloid PET scan.

Dr. Amanda Smith leads clinical research in Alzheimer’s disease at USF Health.

Of the 4,000 IDEAS participants who’ve so far completed their 90-day follow-up, about 70 percent have had their management plans altered. This includes drug therapy, counseling and additional testing. The Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute reports having similar results in its 23 patients enrolled so far.

“Amyloid PET scanning has really revolutionized our ability to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease,” said Amanda Smith, MD, medical director of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. “Our hope is that by demonstrating how these scans impact doctors’ decision-making, we can show how they save insurance dollars in the long run, and have them become part of the standard medical workup for dementia.”

Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is enrolling additional participants who are existing patients. IDEAS intends to enroll 18,000 Medicare beneficiaries with mild cognitive impairment. The study is intended to prove early diagnosis will provide patients more accurate drug treatment plans and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations. 

 *Preliminary results were presented at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.