September 27, 2017 | by The Polyclinic

Over the past year Dr. Braden Nago, a neurologist at The Polyclinic Madison Center, has been offering patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia of uncertain cause the opportunity to take part in the IDEAS study.

What is the IDEAS study?

IDEAS stands for Imaging Dementia – Evidence for Amyloid Scanning. Patients enrolled in the study undergo an amyloid PET scan, which is a scan that highlights the amyloid plaques in the brain. A negative scan almost certainly means a patient does not have Alzheimer’s, but a positive scan – one that shows amyloid deposits – is an indicator for increased risk of progression.

The study has two goals. First, to assess the impact on patient care 3 months after the amyloid imaging, and second to assess the impact on health outcomes (such as hospitalizations) a year later. More than 18,000 patients will be enrolled over 2 years at sites throughout the United States.

Trial leaders hope that the IDEAS study will show that doctors and families make different decisions when they know what they’re dealing with. The study could also pave the way for Medicare and private insurance payments. Medicare, which typically leads the pack in insurance decisions, ruled against covering most amyloid imaging in 2013, saying there was insufficient evidence of benefit. If the aims of the IDEAS study are confirmed, Medicare may change its ruling.

What are the study results so far?

Early results from the first 3,979 patients have been promising. Changes in patient care were seen in 67.8% of MCI patients and 65.9% of dementia patients after being scanned. The majority of adjustments were in Alzheimer’s-specific medications.

Final results for the first aim should be available next year, as well as interim results for the second aim.

Who is eligible to participate in the study?

To be eligible for the study, patients must have a diagnosis of MCI or dementia, be 65 years or older, and a Medicare beneficiary with Medicare as primary insurance.

For additional information about enrolling in the study at The Polyclinic, contact the study coordinator at or (206) 320-6766.