Somatic complaints in frontotemporal dementia.

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Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is associated with a broad spectrum of clinical characteristics. The objective of this study was to analyze the prevalence of unexplained somatic complaints in neuropathologically verified FTD. We also examined whether the somatic presentations correlated with protein pathology or regional brain pathology and if the patients with these somatic features showed more depressive traits. Ninety-seven consecutively neuropathologically verified FTLD patients were selected. All 97 patients were part of a longitudinal study of FTD and all medical records were systematically reviewed. The somatic complaints focused on were headache, musculoskeletal, gastro/urogenital and abnormal pain response. Symptoms of somatic character (either somatic complaints and/or abnormal pain response) were found in 40.2%. These patients did not differ from the total group with regard to gender, age at onset or duration. Six patients showed exaggerated reactions to sensory stimuli, whereas three patients showed reduced response to pain. Depressive traits were present in 38% and did not correlate with somatic complaints. Suicidal behavior was present in 17 patients, in 10 of these suicidal behavior was concurrent with somatic complaints. No clear correlation between somatic complaints and brain protein pathology, regional pathology or asymmetric hemispherical atrophy was found. Our results show that many FTD patients suffer from unexplained somatic complaints before and/or during dementia where no clear correlation can be found with protein pathology or regional degeneration. Somatic complaints are not covered by current diagnostic criteria for FTD, but need to be considered in diagnostics and care. The need for prospective studies with neuropathological follow up must be stressed as these phenomena remain unexplained, misinterpreted, bizarre and, in many cases, excruciating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-92
JournalAmerican Journal of Neurodegenerative Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Clinical Memory Research Unit (013242610), Pathology, (Lund) (013030000), Department of Psychogeriatrics (013304000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology


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