The Pitfall of Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia Mimics Despite Multidisciplinary Application of the FTDC Criteria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) has a broad differential diagnosis including other neurological and psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric misdiagnoses occur in up to 50% of bvFTD patients. Numbers on misdiagnosis of bvFTD in psychiatric disorders are lacking. Objective: The aim of our study was to investigate the frequency and characteristics of bvFTD misdiagnoses in psychiatric disorders and other neurologic disorders. Methods: Thirty-five patients with a (possible or probable) bvFTD diagnosis made by specialized memory clinic neurologists were included. Change in diagnosis after consulting a psychiatrist at baselinewas recorded as well as change in diagnosis after two years of multidisciplinary neuropsychiatric follow-up. Differences in cognitive and behavioral profiles were investigated per diagnostic group after follow-up (bvFTD, psychiatry, other neurologic disorders). Clinical profiles are described in detail. Results: In 17 patients (48.5%), the bvFTD baseline diagnosis changed: Two at baseline after psychiatric consultation, and 15 after two years of multidisciplinary follow-up. Eleven (64.5%) of these 17 patients (31.5% of total) were reclassified with a psychiatric diagnosis. We found no differences for cognitive baseline profiles between patients with bvFTD versus psychiatric diagnoses. Conclusion: In almost half of cases, the initial bvFTD diagnosis was changed after follow-up, most often into a psychiatric disorder. A multidisciplinary neuropsychiatric approach in the diagnostic process of bvFTD results in the identification of treatable disorders. Our findings illustrate a limited specificity of the [18F]FDG-PET-scan and the bvFTD criteria in a neuropsychiatric cohort, especially combined with certain clinical symptoms, like disinhibition, apathy, or loss of empathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-975
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this