Diagnosing frontotemporal dementia 

Confirming a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult, particularly when the condition is in its early stages. This is because many of the symptoms of dementia can be caused by other conditions.

For frontotemporal dementia to be diagnosed correctly, you will have a number of tests and assessments, including:

  • an assessment of your symptoms – for example, whether you have experienced any behavioural changes or problems with speech and language
  • a full assessment of your mental abilities
  • a physical examination
  • a review of the medication you are taking
  • a range of tests, including blood tests, to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency
  • brain scans, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which can show the loss of brain cells in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain (behind the forehead and near the ears) 

Some of these tests can be carried out by your GP. Some will be carried out by specialists, such as a neurologist (an expert in treating conditions that affect the brain and nervous system), an elderly care physician, or a psychiatrist with experience in treating dementia.

Genetic testing

If frontotemporal dementia runs in your family, you may want to talk to your GP about being referred for a genetic test to find out if you carry one of the altered genes that causes the condition.

However, before having any tests, you should discuss the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing with a counsellor.

Read more about genetic testing and counselling.

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2015

Next review due: 28/01/2017