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Brain scan is normal?


Registered User
Jul 29, 2015
Hello, I'd appreciate any advice please....
My mother is 84, and has had a preliminary diagnosis of a combination of Alzheimers and dementia from the consultant at the Memory Clinic. However, her ct scan came back as normal for her age. The MC asked her to go back for more tests, but the first visit was upsetting for her, and she won't.
As far as I'm concerned her symptoms match everything I have read about Alzheimers and dementia.
Has anyone else come across this?


Registered User
May 21, 2014
Do you mean Alzheimer's and vascular dementia? This would be mixed dementia. Dementia on its own is the umbrella term for all forms, including Alzheimer's.

From what I know about brain scans, and admittedly that isn't much, is that they often don't provide a diagnosis but can rule out other causes like a stroke or a tumour. No dementia form can be diagnosed with a brain scan alone. Here's a factsheet on vascular dementia: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=161
It contains a link to the Alzheimer's factsheet.


Registered User
Jul 29, 2015
Thank you for your reply Beate.
Looking at the paperwork the provisional diagnosis is
Alzheimers disease Dementia, moderate severity


Registered User
Aug 30, 2012
Brixham Devon
I would ask for a second opinion regarding the scan. My Husband had a CT scan and the Neurologist declared that Pete did not have Dementia of any kind. In fact he was already showing moderate stage AD:confused::(. I've no idea how it was missed-pure ineptitude:mad: We were told that Pete was 'just' showing all the signs of depression and anxiety. Two years later when he was sectioned for the second time we met a wonderful Consultant who just knew that Pete had some kind of Dementia. She looked at the original scan and she could see the brain damage. A further scan showed that he was low severe stage.

Take care

Lyn T XX


Registered User
Apr 5, 2010
MIL had a brain scan and we were told she had brain shrinkage of someone who was her age. The mental health team tried to do carry out a mini mental health check on her only for her to get zero. The mental health ignored the scan and said she has Alzheimer's.


Registered User
Dec 8, 2011
North West
First, scans always require interpretation and and are not clear-cut.

In addition a summary of the 'Nun Study' (well worth googling) states: Perhaps the single most important conclusion from the study is that Alzheimer disease is not straight forward. In several cases, pathology studies of brain tissue from the deceased nuns did not correlate with their performance on cognitive function tests. Sometimes the pathologist would score a brain as having signs of extremely advanced AD, only to learn later that the nun herself scored extremely well on all cognitive tests. Other times a brain would show only slight damage associated with AD, and the nun was characterized as exhibiting the signs of advanced cognitive decline and dementia.

Briefly, the nuns are studied during their lives and then their brains are examined post-mortem.

There is other research that supports this conclusion but it is rarely publicised.

I have never understood why this issue is not better known or more comprehensively investigated.
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Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
Near Southampton
As Beate has said, the basic scan is to rule out other conditions, apart from Alzheimer's Disease which could be causing the dementia as it's not easy to diagnose Alzheimer's disease from a scan
Sometimes, areas of the plaques can be seen in a detailed scan, such as a SPECT scan but these are not usually carried out as if nothing is seen on the CT or MRI scan, then the conclusion is that the cause is Alzheimer's.


Registered User
Jul 29, 2015
Thank you everyone for your replies. It's going to be hard to get a second opinion or more tests carried out as Mum is so against the idea. Unfortunately her experiences with doctors and hospitals have not been good in the past. With help from me she is coping with day to day life at the moment, although I know things are going to get more difficult as time goes on.
It's been really useful for me reading the posts on this forum.