Background: Although medial temporal atrophy (MTA) is a useful imaging marker of the progression to dementia in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), substantial numbers of MCI patients without MTA still progress to dementia.
Objective: We investigated whether visual ratings of posterior atrophy (PA) on magnetic resonance imaging show independent predictive value for the progression to dementia in MCI patients.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of elderly patients who visited Seoul National University Bundang Hospital between 2004 and 2012. A total of 148 patients who were initially diagnosed with MCI were followed for up to 3 years (median 22 months) to determine whether they progressed to dementia. We used 4-point and 5-point visual rating scales to assess PA and MTA, respectively. PA and MTA scores were dichotomized into normal (no atrophy) or abnormal (atrophy) in each patient. We performed a Cox regression analysis to examine the hazard ratios (HRs) of PA and MTA for the progression to dementia with adjustment for age, APOE epsilon 4 allele status, and baseline Mini-Mental State Examination score.
Results: Among the study population, 47 patients progressed to dementia. Visual assessment of the MRI scans revealed that 67 patients (45.3%) showed PA, whereas 85 patients (57.3%) showed MTA. The HRs with 95% confidence intervals for PA and MTA were 2.516 (1.244-5.091) and 4.238 (1.680-10.687), respectively. The predictive values of visually assessed PA and MTA remained significant, independent of the covariates.
Conclusion: Visual assessment of PA has independent predictive value for progression to dementia in MCI patients.