The Psychiatric Misdiagnosis of Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia in a Colombian Sample

Lina Zapata-Restrepo, Juan Rivas, Carlos Miranda, Bruce L. Miller, Agustín Ibanez, Isabel E. Allen, Katherine Possin

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8 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the demographic characteristics, initial psychiatric diagnoses, and the time to reach a diagnosis of probable behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) in a public psychiatric hospital in Cali, Colombia. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 28 patients who were diagnosed with probable bvFTD based on a multidisciplinary evaluation that included a structural MRI, neuropsychological testing, functional assessment, and neurological exam. Prior to this evaluation, all patients were evaluated by a psychiatrist as part of their initial consultation at the hospital. The initial consultation included the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and diagnoses based on the DSM-V. Demographics, clinical features, and initial psychiatric misdiagnoses were extracted from clinical records and summarized in the full sample and by gender. Results: The study sample had a mean education of 10.0 years (SD = 4.9) and 68.0% were female. In the full sample, 28.6% were initially diagnosed with dementia, and 71.4% with a psychiatric disorder. The psychiatric diagnosis at initial consultation differed by gender. Women were most likely to be diagnosed with depression (26.3%) or bipolar disorder (26.3%), while the men were most likely to be diagnosed with anxiety (33.3%) or a psychotic disorder (22.2%). Psychotic symptoms were common (delusions, 60.7% and hallucinations, 39.3%), and the pattern of neuropsychiatric symptoms did not differ by gender. Conclusions: This is one of few case series of bvFTD in a Colombian population, where bvFTD is a recognizable and prevalent disorder. In this psychiatric hospital, the majority of patients with bvFTD were initially diagnosed with a primary psychiatric condition. There was a gender difference in psychiatric diagnosis, but not in neuropsychiatric symptoms. In this sample, the rate of psychiatric misdiagnosis, as well as the psychotic symptoms, were higher compared to rates described in other countries. These results highlight the need for interventions to improve bvFTD diagnosis in under-represented populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number729381
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • BPSD (behavioral and psychological symptoms in dementia)
  • behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia
  • dementia caregivers
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • frontotemporal dementia (FTD) spectrum
  • frontotemporal lobar degeneration
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia
  • psychiatric misdiagnosis


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