MLH participates in largest brain amyloid scan research study


By Ashima Lall, MD, MBA, System Chief of Performance Improvement and Lead Radiologist for IDEAS Study at MLH, and Emma L. Simpson, MD, System Chair of Radiology


Paoli Hospital and Founders Building on the Bryn Mawr Hospital campus are now registered amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) imaging sites in the $100 million Imaging Dementia—Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study ( Main Line Health can offer Medicare-covered amyloid PET scans to study eligible Medicare patients who are referred by participating IDEAS dementia specialists (neurologists, psychiatrists and geriatric medicine physicians). The research study seeks to determine the clinical usefulness of PET imaging of brain amyloid deposits in the diagnosis of patients who are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


“Medicare will only cover these exams for seniors if done as part of clinical trial or data registry. Currently, no private insurer covers amyloid PET scans for patients being evaluated for dementia or memory loss,” said Ashima Lall, MD, MBA, Lead Radiologist for IDEAs Study at MLH. “I encourage local dementia specialists to review participation requirements, register for the trial, and refer eligible patients to Main Line Health to get Medicare-covered amyloid PET scans that may better inform their care and future Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment.”


Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is complex. With no single test currently available, diagnosis is based on an individual’s history, physical examination and cognitive testing. Amyloid PET imaging represents a potential major advance in the assessment of people with cognitive impairment. The scan visualizes plaques present in the brain that are prime suspects in damaging and killing nerve cells in Alzheimer’s. Before amyloid PET, these plaques could only be detected by examining the brain at autopsy. The IDEAS study will follow Medicare beneficiaries to determine if amyloid PET scans may help physicians make more informed treatment decisions.


“There has never been a study of this scale to evaluate the clinical value of brain amyloid imaging in diagnosing and caring for those affected by Alzheimer’s,” said Maria Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer and IDEAS Study investigator. “The dementia specialists and facilities that register for the IDEAS Study will play an essential role in engaging the nearly 19,000 individuals needed in the study and carrying out the amyloid PET scans.”


Patients cannot directly enroll in the IDEAS Study. IDEAS Study dementia specialists must enroll patients whose cases meet the study criteria and refer them to registered PET imaging facilities, such as MLH PET Facilities at Founders and Paoli Hospital for an amyloid PET scan. These scans will be performed and interpreted by a nuclear medicine physician or radiologist who is registered to take part in the IDEAS Study. Results will be provided to the ordering doctor for disclosure to the patient and to support further diagnostic decisions. Scan results and diagnosis will be captured for the study.


The IDEAS Study is sponsored by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), with funding and direction provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, the ACR and the manufacturers of the FDA-approved radiopharmaceuticals for amyloid imaging.


Step-by-step registration instructions are available for board-certified neurologists, psychiatrists and geriatric medicine physicians interested in enrolling eligible patients in the IDEAS Study.


Registered dementia specialists interested in referring enrolled patients can call the Radiology Departments at Founders at 484-337-8184 and Paoli Hospital at 484-565-8080.


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