Exams and Tests

Dementia can often be diagnosed with a history and physical exam by a skilled doctor or nurse. A health care provider will take a history, do a physical exam (including a neurological exam), and perform some tests of mental function called a mental status examination.

The health care provider may order tests to help determine whether other problems could be causing dementia or making it worse. These conditions include:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Brain tumor
  • Intoxication from medications
  • Chronic infection
  • Anemia
  • Severe depression

The following tests and procedures may be done:

  • B12 level
  • Blood ammonia levels
  • Blood chemistry (chem-20)
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis
  • Drug or alcohol levels (toxicology screen)
  • Tests for exposure to metals such as lead or arsenic
  • Electroencephalograph (EEG)
  • Glucose test
  • Head CT
  • Liver function tests
  • Mental status test
  • MRI of head
  • Serum calcium
  • Serum electrolytes
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone level
  • Urinalysis
     

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