To investigate the prevalence of the frontal lobe syndrome (FLS) and the frontal variant of frontotemporal dementia (fvFTD) in a population based sample of 85 year olds.
A representative sample of 85 year olds (n = 451) in Gothenburg, Sweden was examined with a neuropsychiatric examination and a key informant interview performed by an experienced psychiatrist. A subsample underwent computed tomography (CT) of the head. The Lund-Manchester research criteria were used as a basis for a symptom algorithm to identify individuals with FLS and fvFTD. These were diagnosed blindly to the diagnosis of dementia according to DSM-III-R.
A total of 86 individuals (19%) fulfilled the criteria for FLS, and 14 of them fulfilled criteria for fvFTD. There were no differences between men and women. Among those with FLS, 75 (87%) fulfilled DSM-III-R criteria for other types of dementia, mainly Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Among the 14 fvFTD cases, only five were demented according to DSM-III-R. Moderate to severe frontal atrophy was found in 93% of those with FLS (and in all cases with fvFTD), but also in 49% of those without FLS. FLS was found in 35% of those with moderate to severe frontal atrophy, and in 3% of those without these changes.
The prevalence of fvFTD was 3% in 85 year olds, which is higher than previously expected in this age group. Only a minority of those with fvFTD were detected by the DSM-III-R criteria for dementia. FLS was even more common, especially in those diagnosed with a dementia disorder.