Research UPDATE: Improving Diagnosis of NPH Through Imaging

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Dr. Dana Moore

Dr. Dana Moore

Continuing with our Mentored Young Investigator (MYI) blog series, we want to highlight one of the 2009 recipients, Dana Moore, Ph.D. Her study entitled, “Quantitative measurement of ventricular volume and cortical atrophy to improve diagnosis of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH),” aimed to improve diagnosis of NPH through imaging. NPH is a chronic neurological disorder in adults. It can be easily misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia.
If left untreated, NPH can lead to severe dementia and permanent brain damage, but if treated at an early stage the progression can be stopped and symptoms can improve. This is why it is so important to be able to distinguish NPH from other neurological disorders.

Dr. Moore’s study aimed to determine if obtaining new information from MRI scans can improve the diagnosis of NPH. By using images from NPH patients, normal participants and AD patients, Dr. Moore can see if there are differences among the images. She is looking specifically at cortical thickness and lateral ventricular volume. If there are differences, the secondary aim of her study is to create a model using cortical thickness and/or lateral ventricular volume as predictors to specifically distinguish NPH patients.

Without the financial support the HA MYI grant provided, Dr. Moore would not have been able to conduct her study. The grant also gave her experience as a researchers and a solid foundation for applying for larger research awards in the future. She does see challenges in the field of hydrocephalus research, specifically NPH, among which is that it is a less commonly known disease in comparison to Alzheimer’s. Because it is not as well know, it is difficult to get funding for crucial research projects. In addition, a challenge with NPH is that diagnosis is traditionally a doctor’s subjective judgment of a brain scan. Improvement in imaging is needed to improve diagnosis. The ultimate challenge to hydrocephalus research is the need for more awareness of hydrocephalus among the general population as well as the scientific community. Dr. Moore believes that “more emphasis is needed on hydrocephalus in neurology and neuropsychology training programs. And more funding opportunities are needed” in order to advance hydrocephalus research.

Dr. Moore’s initial findings were published in the journal Neurology Research International, “A pilot study of quantitative MRI measurements of ventricular volume and cortical atrophy for the differential diagnosis of normal pressure hydrocephalus.” Another article using results from this study was published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, “Differential Diagnosis of normal pressure hydrocephalus by MRI mean diffusivity histogram analysis.” Abstracts for these papers can be found below.

Links to the abstracts

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21860791

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23257611

Mentored Young Investigator Award (MYI) program

The MYI Award program began in 2009 with the dual purpose of funding promising research relevant to hydrocephalus while fostering the development of young researchers. The award helps insure that qualified young scientists enter the field of hydrocephalus research and receive research training and experience under the guidance of highly trained, well-respected researchers who have demonstrated success in their field of research. At the completion of the grant period, our goal is that these young scientists become high-caliber, productive, independent researchers with an enduring focus on research relevant to hydrocephalus. Ultimately, it is hoped that this support will help these young scientists to make successful applications for an NIH K or R award to continue their research in hydrocephalus, thereby enriching the hydrocephalus research landscape.

 

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