The diagnostic agent, approved for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of plaques in the living brain, binds to brain beta-amyloid and then PET scanner produces images of the plaque if present in the brain.

A negative Amyvid scan indicates no amyloid plaque while a positive Amyvid scan indicates presence of amyloid plaque.

The plaque can also be present in patients with other types of neurologic conditions as well as older people with normal cognition.

As a result, positive scan cannot be a definitive proof and the results must be interpreted in the context of a comprehensive neurological and cognitive assessment to be meaningful.

NorthShore Neurological Institute memory and cognitive disorders program director Felise Zollman said until now, the brain plaque content could only be determined with a brain biopsy or examination of the brain at autopsy.

"The addition of Amyvid scanning capability is an exciting development in the evolution of the management of Alzheimer’s Disease because it brings us one step closer to being able to one day provide both definitive diagnosis of the condition as well as develop new preventive and therapeutic treatments," Zollman added.