DaTscan is an imaging technology that uses small amounts of a radioactive drug to help determine how much dopamine is available in a person’s brain. A machine similar to but smaller than an MRI machine, called a single photon emission computed tomography or SPECT scanner, measures the amount and location of the drug in the brain.
DaTscans cannot diagnose Parkinson’s disease. These scans are used to help a doctor confirm a diagnosis. DaTscan has been used in Europe for over 10 years, where more than 300,000 have undergone the procedure. The results of a DaTscan can be used to help rule out other diseases that may have similar symptoms, like essential tremor, especially for individuals early in the course of their disease. However, there are several other diseases, multiple system atrophy (MSA) or progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which can also produce a loss of dopamine in the brain. A DaTscan cannot differentiate between those diseases and Parkinson’s.
Currently, there is no objective test for Parkinson’s disease. While the specificity and sensitivity of DaTscans are not 100 percent, the test can help doctors to confirm or refute their suspecteddiagnosis. DaTscans will therefore be helpful in people whose symptoms present an inconclusive or confusing diagnosis.
This technology is available at the DIS Women’s & Advanced Imaging Center in Metairie. With the addition of DaTscan studies to our suite of services, people who are now deemed appropriate for this exam can have it completed in an outpatient setting without going to the hospital. Our setting is more relaxed, quiet and comfortable, and our care and service is second to none.
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