PURPOSEThis study was designed to validate a simple scoring system for evaluating fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomographic (PET) scans that can be used routinely in patients undergoing the clinical assessment of cognitive impairment.METHODSThe FDG-PET scans of 106 patients with cognitive impairment (65 with Alzheimer disease, 16 with frontal lobe dementia, and 25 atypical cases) were acquired using the PENN-PET scanner 40 minutes after the intravenous administration of 8 mCi FDG. Metabolic activity in various anatomic structures of the brain was scored using the following qualitative scale: 4 = normal; 3 = mildly decreased; 2 = moderately decreased; 1 = severely decreased; and 0 = no activity. Regions of interest were also placed over these regions to obtain a quantitative value. Two distinct scores were obtained. Values for visual and sensorimotor cortices, thalami, basal ganglia, and cerebellum comprised score I. Score II consisted of the values for the frontal, temporal, and parietal cortices. The qualitative metabolic imaging severity rating scale (MISRS) was compared with a quantitative MISRS (obtained from the region-of-interest analysis of the same structures). The MISRS was then compared with the results from the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) and the Dementia Severity Rating Score (DSRS).RESULTSIn all patients, the qualitative MISRS scores correlated significantly with the quantitative MISRS (r = 0.73, P < 0.0001). In all patients with cognitive impairment, the qualitative and quantitative MISRS scores correlated significantly with the DSRS and the MMSE (P < 0.001). In patients with Alzheimer disease, the qualitative and quantitative MISRS significantly correlated with the DSRS and MMSE.CONCLUSIONA simple and practical rating scale can be used to assess the severity of cognitive impairment in patients with different types of dementing illnesses.