Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Does A Dat Scan Confirm Parkinson’s

What Is The Difference Between An Mri And A Spect Scan

Is there a test my physician can do to confirm a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis?

A SPECT scan is similar to an MRI study in that both can show 3D images of the brain. However, whereas MRI shows the physical anatomy or structure of the brain, SPECT shows how the brain works. PET, another nuclear imaging technique, is similar to SPECT but is a more costly imagining technique.

Can a Spect scan diagnose dementia?

Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography brain scans are a routine part of dementia diagnosis, helping exclude other causes of failing brain function and better diagnose the dementia type.

Can a Spect scan show depression?

SPECT functional brain scans of patients affected by these types of infections reveal diffuse hypoperfusion, a marker of infection, toxic injury, or sometimes inflammation. The scans of such patients typically do not reveal increased thalamic activity, a marker often associated with depression.

Would I Still Have Gotten A Datscan

It was important for me to have confirmation other than my symptoms of abnormalities in my brain. I think this scan can be used as a baseline to follow my disease progression.

So, yes, I would have still gotten this test, although the $2,000 out-of-pocket cost upfront may have given me pause.

Note: Parkinsons News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinsons News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinsons disease.

Role Of Dat Scan In Early Diagnosis And Management

Sensitivities and specificities of DaT scan use are as follows:

  • Differentiating essential tremor from PD sensitivity 93% specificity 100%
  • Differentiating dementia with Lewy bodies from AD or other dementia sensitivity 93% specificity 86%

In clinically-uncertain Parkinsonian syndrome, 53% accuracy in early diagnosis without the scan versus 86-90% accuracy with the scan has been reported.

In clinically-uncertain Parkinsonian syndrome, 53% accuracy in early diagnosis without the scan versus 86-90% accuracy with the scan has been reported

In general, Dr Tao reported, 50% or more of patients have their clinical management changed following DaT scan changed, depending on whether the technique is being used by a MDS specialist or not. Non-specialists tend to change clinical management strategies in a greater proportion of patients than specialists.

50% or more of patients have their clinical management changed following DaT scan changed

Essential tremor is not difficult to diagnose in most patients but can sometimes be challenging if it is present with symptoms mimicking Parkinsonism. And, he reminded the audience, patients with a long-standing essential tremor are also more likely to develop PD and, therefore, become ET/PD.

Cases demonstrate value of DaT scan in clinical practice

Dr Tao warned that certain medicines that bind to the dopamine transporter can interfere with diagnosis, including cannabis, and need to be discontinued prior to DaT scan.

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Why Would A Doctor Order An Fmri

An fMRI can reveal which areas of the brain perform specific functions such as thought, speech, or movement. The imaging method is used to help doctors see the effects of a stroke, trauma, brain tumors, or diseases such as Alzheimers.

How much does a functional MRI cost?

How Much Does a Functional MRI Cost? On MDsave, the cost of a Functional MRI ranges from $488 to $542. Those on high deductible health plans or without insurance can save when they buy their procedure upfront through MDsave. Read more about how MDsave works.

What is an fMRI used to diagnose?

It may be used to examine the brains functional anatomy, , evaluate the effects of stroke or other disease, or to guide brain treatment. fMRI may detect abnormalities within the brain that cannot be found with other imaging techniques.

How Soon Will I Have My Pet Scan Results


PET scans are usually more extensive and detailed than similar tests that are available. Despite this, test results can usually be given within one to two days after the scan.

Show Sources

National Parkinson Foundation: “Should I get a DaT scan or PET scan to confirm my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease?”

Radiology-Info.org: “PET Scan and Parkinson Disease.”

University of Chicago Medical Center: “How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?”

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Data Extraction And Quality Assessment

Data were extracted by two reviewers independently and were recorded in absolute numbers. Where proportions only were reported the absolute figure was recalculated. Data on clinical utility following imaging with DaTscan, scan technical characteristics ), and baseline characteristics of studied patients were extracted . Change in diagnosis was defined as any change in the patients assigned or suspected diagnosis following disclosure of the results of the imaging scan. Change in management was defined as any changes that the study authors recorded as changes in treatment or further investigations, such as drug changes , referral for counselling or physical therapy following the disclosure of DaT imaging results. Results were compared, and discrepancies between the two reviewers were resolved in a meeting.

Risk of bias assessment was carried out on all studies using an adapted form of the QUADAS-2 checklist amended by the study authors to fit studies of clinical utility, rather than diagnostic accuracy. A copy of the amended QUADAS-2 checklist is provided in Supplementary data . The risk of bias assessment was used independently of the quantitative meta-analysis.

What To Expect During A Datscan

Before the DaTscan, it is essential to discuss the patients medical history with the doctor. For instance, some medications may interfere with the imaging and may need to be discontinued.

The radioactive agent that is injected into the patients bloodstream before the imaging takes some time to reach the striatum region of the brain where cells carrying DaT are usually found. After injection, the patient may need to wait for three to six hours before receiving the SPECT scan to visualize DaT distribution in the brain. The scan itself can take 45 minutes to an hour.

The radiologist will then send the brain scans to the neurologist who will explain the results to the patient.

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Am I Convinced That I Have Pd

Three years after my diagnosis, I am still struggling to find relief from my symptoms and slow the progression of this disease. I exercise, eating a mostly vegan and gluten-free diet, take Sinemet , and use the Neupro transdermal patch. I am working with my current neurologist to fine-tune my medication cocktail.

I had wondered whether I did have PD since Ive never had an aha moment in which I feel somewhat normal after taking medications. People tell me I look fine and they dont observe any external signs of the disease. However, my tremors are internal and I feel horrible and constantly fatigued.

What Happens During A Datscan

How does a physician arrive at a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis?

During a DaTSCAN, a very small amount of tracer, specific for the organ or tissue to be scanned, is injected into a vein by a nuclear medicine technologist. Images may be taken during the injection, immediately after the injection, or following a delayed period to allow the tracer to distribute to the organ or tissue of interest. The gamma rays emitted by the tracer are detected by a special camera that is positioned near the organ or part of the body being imaged.

You will need to remain very still for the camera, but it will not touch you. The radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a routine X-ray. The tracer only remains in the body for a short period of time before being eliminated in the urine or stool.

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Is Early Diagnosis Possible

Experts are becoming more aware of symptoms of Parkinsons that precede physical manifestations. Clues to the disease that sometimes show up before motor symptoms and before a formal diagnosis are called prodromal symptoms. These include the loss of sense of smell, a sleep disturbance called REM behavior disorder, ongoing constipation thats not otherwise explained and mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Research into these and other early symptoms holds promise for even more sensitive testing and diagnosis.

For example, biomarker research is trying to answer the question of who gets Parkinsons disease. Researchers hope that once doctors can predict that a person with very early symptoms will eventually get Parkinsons disease, those patients can be appropriately treated. At the very least, these advances could greatly delay progression.

Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center

Our center provides compassionate and timely treatment to patients with movement disorders, such as dystonia, ataxia, essential tremor and similar conditions. But our mission goes beyond patient care excellence. By offering educational events and support groups, we empower patients and caregivers to become better partners in their health.

What Are The Pitfalls Of Datscan

DaTscan will appear abnormal in any disease in which there is a loss of dopamine nerve endings in the striatum. Therefore, Parkinson-plus syndromes, discussed in a prior blog, such as Progressive supranuclear palsy , Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration and Multiple system atrophy all typically demonstrate abnormal DaTscans. DaTscan therefore cannot be used to distinguish between these syndromes.

Every medical test has a false positive and a false negative rate. This means, that it is inevitable that in a certain percentage of people who have PD, the DaTscan will be read as normal and in a certain percentage of people without PD, the DaTscan will be read as abnormal. Results of any medical test that is performed, must therefore be considered within the entire clinical context.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Radioactive Dye

Mild reactions include:

  • mild skin rash or hives.

Does a DAT scan confirm Parkinsons?

While a DaTscan cannot diagnose PD, doctors use them to confirm a diagnosis. A negative DaTscan result does not rule out a Parkinsons diagnosis, but a positive result helps confirm it.

What conditions can be diagnosed by the DAT?

DaTscan is a tool used to confirm the diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. It is a specific type of single-photon emission computed tomography imaging technique that helps visualize dopamine transporter levels in the brain.

Imaging And Differential Diagnosis

DaTscan testing for Parkinson

The core clinical signs of PD include resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability. Most patients also experience nonmotor symptoms such as cognitive and emotional changes , dysautonomia, sleep disorders, and sensory disturbances. Many experience prodromal nonmotor symptoms such as anosmia, depression, constipation, and REM sleep behavior. Clinical subtypes of the disease have been identified, including tremor dominant and postural instability gait difficulty . Atypical features may be clues that there are other etiologies that can be differentiated with imaging studies.1 Structural brain imaging is frequently ordered to investigate these cases. In addition, SPECT imaging with DaT may be useful to confirm central nervous system dopamine signaling deficiency in select cases . On DaT scans, normal radiotracer uptake in the striatum forms 2 crescent-shaped regions of activity, mirrored around the median plane. In contrast, in PD, there is asymmetrically decreased activity in the putamen, often with preserved uptake in the caudate nucleus.2,3 A DaT scan is FDA approved for differentiating essential tremor from PD, and is also frequently useful for differentiating drug-induced parkinsonism from PD.

Cerebrovascular Disease

Corticobasal Degeneration

Multiple System Atrophy

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy



Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

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Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Via Datscan And Clinical Exam Are Similarly Accurate

Despite the DaTscan being available to help diagnose Parkinsons, in most clinical situations, a DaTscan will not add information to what can be gleaned from the clinical exam. One study actually demonstrated that the accuracy of diagnosis in early PD was the same whether the diagnosis was reached using clinical exam or using DaTscan.

Who Is Datscan For

DaTscan is not necessary for every Parkinsons patient. For most, the distinct clinical symptoms such as slowness of movement, tremors, and stiffness are sufficient to reach a diagnosis, and the information generated through the scan may not be new and will not alter their treatment plans.

However, in patients with unclear symptoms that overlap with other neurological conditions and for those who do not respond to treatment, DaTscan can be necessary to reach a diagnosis.

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Should I Get A Datscan Or Pet Scan To Confirm My Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Disease

You can find out more about NPFs National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the NPF Center of Excellence, University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration.

This past month, the FDA approved DaTscan , a radiopharmaceutical agent which is injected into a patients veins in a procedure referred to as SPECT imaging. DaTscan is an important addition because it is anticipated to be more widely available than other techniques and it has received several major endorsements from leading scientists.

One of the most frequently asked questions about Parkinsons disease on NPFs Ask the Doctor web-based forum is whether or not to pursue DaT or PET scanning to confirm a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. In this months Whats Hot column, we offer a review of the subject in light of the recent FDA approval.

The new DaT scans use a substance that tags a part of a neuron in the brain where dopamine attaches to it, showing the density of healthy dopamine neurons. Thus, the more of the picture that lights up, the more surviving brain cells. If the parts of the brain where dopamine cells should be remain dark in the scan, an expert reader may diagnose early brain degeneration. This could mean either Parkinsons disease or parkinsonism.

An example DaTscan is shown below and it demonstrates essential tremor on the left , and a parkinsonian syndrome on the right .

What You Can Expect

Brain Imaging in Parkinson’s Disease – 2014 UF Health Parkinson Symposium

On arrival, you will be given an oral liquid medicine to block the uptake of the iodine by the thyroid. One hour later, you will be given an intravenous injection of the radioactive tracer. This feels very similar to a blood test and has no side effects. The images are taken about 3 hours after the injection. You will be asked to lie on your back on a bed with your head in a small cradle. Two cameras will move around your head to create the images, but they do not touch the head. The images take about 25 minutes to acquire.

After all the images are completed, the technologist will check them before you go home. We will not be able to give out the result of the study immediately, but a written report will be sent to the referring doctor. Contact us today to schedule a DaTscan with our neuroradiology team!

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Why Would My Doctor Order A Datscan

Your doctor may order a DaTSCAN to confirm or rule out a diagnosis, or to see how a medication is affecting your brain or internal organs. SPECT scans may also be ordered to help diagnose or monitor conditions affecting the bones and the internal organs, especially the heart and the brain, and even to manage and stage cancer.

DaTSCAN allows physicians to see which areas of the brain are responding to various stimuli, making it particularly helpful in confirming diagnoses as movement disorders such as Parkinsons Disease, Parkinsonian Syndrome, and Essential Tremor. DaTSCAN can also be helpful in diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injury , attention deficit disorder , attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , and more.

Tests Used In Establishing The Cause Of Parkinsonism

PET is a radiotracer-based method that can assess the in vivo function of the dopaminergic and other neurotransmitter systems. DOPA PET is a reliable tool to establish nigrostriatal cell loss but not very practical in clinical practice because the technique is only available in a limited number of centers, is expensive, and expertise in cerebral PET imaging is essential .

DAT SPECT imaging – a practical, less expensive, and more widely available technique than DOPA PET – has been incorporated in most centers as diagnostic tool . DAT tracers like FP-CIT are typically used. Recent studies have shown that DAT SPECT imaging might be a sensitive method to establish nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration . For example, people with subclinical and even preclinical PD already have clear deficits of the nigrostriatal pathway . Also, if the scan does not show a nigrostriatal deficit, it is highly unlikely that the patient suffers from symptoms caused by nigrostriatal cell loss . SPECT with tracers labeling postsynaptic dopamine D2/3 receptors shows a relatively low diagnostic accuracy, 59 to 80% sensitivity and 46 to 50% specificity in differentiating PD from non-neurodegenerative diseases .

Hyperechogenicity in the area of the midbrain has been consistently found in 79 to 90% of patients with PD using TCS . However, in 6 to 12% of healthy volunteers, hyperechogenicity of the substantia nigra is also found . This is even higher in patients with essential tremor .

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What Are The Limitations Of The Test

Currently, DaTscan that is in clinical use is not quantitative, which means that the test is not designed to determine how impaired the dopamine system is just whether it is or not. This means that the test is not used to tell you whether the disease has progressed over time and is not used to follow a patients disease. It also is not used currently as a clinical test to screen for the disease before motor symptoms are evident. Because of these limitations, the search continues for additional measurable indicators, known as biomarkers, to help diagnosis and manage PD.

Tips and Takeaways

  • DaTscan is a test that can help in the diagnosis of PD, although in most situations a clinical exam done by a neurologist offers the same information.
  • Neurologists are skilled to diagnose PD through a clinical exam. While the exam to some may seem very basic and thus a PD diagnosis subjective or questionable, neurologists are well-trained to assess and diagnose with confidence.
  • DaTscan may be useful in distinguishing PD from certain conditions, but not from others, so talk with your neurologist about whether DaTscan would be useful in your specific situation.
  • DaTscan is not a test used for monitoring PD progression. It can be used to help clarify a PD diagnosis, but it is not a test you would undergo multiple times during the course of your disease.

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Dr. Rebecca Gilbert

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