Alzheimer's Disease

Case #382: MRI brain, 3/6/95 & PET scan 2/14/97(research): Dementia of Alzheimer's Type with primary parieto-occipital involvement.

CC: Memory difficulty.

 

Hx: This 64y/o RHM had had difficulty remembering names, phone numbers and events for 12 months prior to presentation, on 2/28/95. This had been called to his attention by the clerical staff at his parish--he was a Catholic priest. He had had no professional or social faux pas or mishaps due to his memory. He could not tell whether his problem was becoming worse, so he brought himself to the Neurology clinic on his own referral.

 

MEDS: none.

PMH: 1)appendectomy, 2)tonsillectomy, 3)childhood pneumonia, 4)allergy to sulfa drugs.

FHx: Both parents experienced memory problems in their ninth decades, but not earlier. 5 siblings have had no memory trouble. There are no neurological illnesses in his family.

SHx: Catholic priest. Denied Tobacco/ETOH/illicit drug use.

 

EXAM:BP131/74, HR78, RR12, 36.9C, Wt. 77kg, Ht. 178cm.

MS: A&O to person, place and time. 29/30 on MMSE; 2/3 recall at 5 minutes. 2/10 word recall at 10 minutes. Unable to remember the name of the President(Clinton). 23words/60 sec on Category fluency testing(normal). Mild visual constructive deficit.

The rest of the neurologic exam was unremarkable and there were no extrapyramidal signs or primitive reflexes noted.

 

COURSE: TSH 5.1, T4 7.9, RPR non-reactive. Neuropsychological evaluation, 3/6/95, revealed: 1)well preserved intellectual functioning and orientation, 2) significant deficits in verbal and visual memory, proper naming, category fluency and working memory, 3)performances which were below expectations on tests of speed of reading, visual scanning, visual construction and clock drawing, 4)limited insight into the scope and magnitude of cognitive dysfunction. The findings indicated multiple areas of cerebral dysfunction. With the exception of the patient's report of minimal occupational dysfunction( which may reflect poor insight), the clinical picture is consistent with a progressive dementia syndrome such as Alzheimer's disease. MRI brain, 3/6/95, showed mild generalized atrophy, more severe in the occipital-parietal regions.

In 4/96, his performance on repeat neuropsychological evaluation was relatively stable. His verbal learning and delayed recognition were within normal limits, whereas delayed recall was "moderately severely" impaired. Immediate and delayed visual memory were slightly below expectations. Temporal orientation and expressive language skills were below expectation, especially in word retrieval. These findings were suggestive of particular, but not exclusive, involvement of the temporal lobes.

On 9/30/96, he was evaluated for a 5 minute spell of visual loss, OU. The episode occurred on Friday, 9/27/96, in the morning while sitting at his desk doing paperwork. He suddenly felt that his gaze was pulled toward a pile of letters; then a "curtain" came down over both visual fields, like "everything was in the shade." During the episode he felt fully alert and aware of his surroundings. He concurrently heard a "grating sound" in his head. After the episode, he made several phone calls, during which he reportedly sounded confused, and perseverated about opening a bank account. He then drove to visit his sister in Muscatine, Iowa, without accident. He was reportedly "normal" when he reached her house. He was able to perform Mass over the weekend without any difficulty. Neurologic examination, 9/30/96, was notable for: 1)category fluency score of 18items/60 sec. 2)VFFTC and EOM were intact. There was no RAPD, INO, loss of visual acuity. Glucose 178(elevated), ESR ,Lipid profile, GS, CBC with differential, Carotid duplex scan, EKG, and EEG were all normal. MRI brain, 9/30/96, was unchanged from previous, 3/6/95.

On 1/3/97, he had a 30 second spell of lightheadedness without vertigo, but with balance difficulty, after picking up a box of books. The episode was felt due to orthostatic changes.

1/8/97 neuropsychological evaluation was stable and his MMSE score was 25/30 (with deficits in visual construction, orientation, and 2/3 recall at 1 minute). Category fluency score 23 items/60 sec. Neurologic exam was notable for graphesthesia in the left hand.

In 2/97, he had episodes of anxiety, marked fluctuations in job performance and resigned his pastoral position. His neurologic exam was unchanged. An FDG-PET scan on 2/14/97 revealed decreased uptake in the right posterior temporal-parietal and lateral occipital regions.

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