Consensus neuropathological diagnosis of common dementia syndromes: testing and standardising the use of multiple diagnostic criteria
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The aim of this study was to assess the variation between neuropathologists in the diagnosis of common dementia syndromes when multiple published protocols are applied. Fourteen out of 18 Australian neuropathologists participated in diagnosing 20 cases (16 cases of dementia, 4 age-matched controls) using consensus diagnostic methods. Diagnostic criteria, clinical synopses and slides from multiple brain regions were sent to participants who were asked for case diagnoses. Diagnostic sensitivity, specificity, predictive value, accuracy and variability were determined using percentage agreement and kappa statistics. Using CERAD criteria, there was a high inter-rater agreement for cases with probable and definite Alzheimer's disease but low agreement for cases with possible Alzheimer's disease. Braak staging and the application of criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies also resulted in high inter-rater agreement. There was poor agreement for the diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia and for identifying small vessel disease. Participants rarely diagnosed more than one disease in any case. To improve efficiency when applying multiple diagnostic criteria, several simplifications were proposed and tested on 5 of the original 20 cases. Inter-rater reliability for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies significantly improved. Further development of simple and accurate methods to identify small vessel lesions and diagnose frontotemporal dementia is warranted.
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