Can a lumbar puncture help diagnose Alzheimer's disease?

If hydrocephalus (excess cerebrospinal fluid in the area around the brain) or infection of the central nervous system is suspected, the doctor may recommend a lumbar puncture to detect increased pressure or inflammatory cells in the spinal fluid. Biochemical markers for Alzheimer's -- including amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles -- can also be detected. These markers are sensitive detectors of Alzheimer's pathology, and specific for them. While tests for these markers are not commonplace today, experts anticipate that they will become a standard part of diagnostic testing in the future.

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