MRI Brain With Hippocampal Volume

At the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center, we offer specialized analysis to measure a part of the brain called the hippocampus. The software we use compares an MRI of a patient’s brain to a database approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of people of the same age, sex and skull size who have healthy brains. This analysis can help your doctor diagnose and follow the progression of certain diseases.

Studies have shown that changes in the volume of this part of the brain can be associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

This analysis can provide an early warning of Alzheimer’s for patients who have mild cognitive impairment. Research has shown a correlation between the size of the hippocampus and the onset of Alzheimer’s. Patients who have a smaller hippocampus are four times more likely to progress to Alzheimer’s in a few years than patients whose hippocampus is a normal size. The hippocampus in a healthy patient shrinks about 1% per year compared to about 5% per year in a person with Alzheimer’s.

This software can monitor changes in brain atrophy over time to determine if, and how quickly, a disease is progressing. The study also may help measure the effect of treatment and identify patients most likely to benefit from aggressive intervention.

Although normal-sized brain structures can’t rule out dementia, high-functioning patients concerned about mild but increasing memory loss may be reassured by results in the normal range.

For more information or to schedule a study, please call 310-423-8000.

Below: Healthy brain on the left with normal-sized hippocampus; shrunken hippocampus suggesting Alzheimer’s disease on right