Sensitivity and specificity of three clinical criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies in an autopsy-verified sample

Cheryl A. Luis, Warren W. Barker, K. Gajaraj, Dylan Harwood, Randy Petersen, Alice Kashuba, Carol Waters, Pat Jimison, Gary Pearl, Carol Petito, Dennis Dickson, Ranjan Duara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Objective. To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the clinical features of three published diagnostic criteria for diffuse Lewy body disease (DLBD) using autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer's (AD), DLBD and AD + DLBD (mixed) dementia cases. Design. Retrospective chart review of an autopsy series of 56 patients selected from the State of Florida Brain Bank on the basis of a pathological diagnosis of either pure AD, DLBD (pure and common forms) or AD + DLBD (mixed) dementia. Clinical features were assessed by three raters blind to the pathological diagnosis. Results. The existing criteria for a clinical diagnosis of DLBD were highly specific (90-100%) but not very sensitive (49-63%) in the differential diagnosis of DLBD versus AD; sensitivity did improve (61-74%) when mixed AD + DLBD cases were eliminated. Clinical features that occur more frequently in DLBD than in AD were unspecified hallucinations, unspecified EPS, fluctuating course and rapid progression. Post-hoc analysis also indicated that hallucinations and EPS were more common early in the disease course of DLBD than in AD. Empirically derived criteria, formulated using the most prevalent clinical features, demonstrated sensitivity values of 57-96% for pure forms and 43-91% for mixed forms. Conclusions. This study demonstrated that additional improvements in the established criteria for DLBD are needed. Our empirically derived criteria enhanced the distinction of DLBD from AD while allowing the clinician the choice of maximizing sensitivity with acceptable specificity, and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1999


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Clinical criteria
  • Diffuse Lewy body disease
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Sensitivity and specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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