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DaTscan™ as SPECT Imaging Aid

Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological disease affecting balance, movement, and agility, affects approximately 1 percent of the population over 60 years of age. Although recent years have brought increased awareness of this disorder, the lack of a test to detect this condition can lead to misdiagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and related syndromes. In many cases, especially early in the course of the disease, an important step in diagnosis is to distinguish Parkinson's syndrome (PS) from essential tremor (ET).

Patients with ET may have some of the same symptoms as those with PS, but have a much better prognosis and generally undergo different types of medical therapy than PS patients. Sometimes, it can take years of clinical follow-up to distinguish PS symptoms from ET symptoms.

However, a new radiopharmaceutical called DaTscan™ has been approved by the FDA to be used in nuclear medicine SPECT imaging to help distinguish Parkinsonian syndromes (PS) from essential tremor (ET). This agent detects the amount or lack of neurons in the brain that act as dopamine transporters.  Kern Radiology is the exclusive provider in Kern County for the DaTscan exam.

While the DaTscan exam is not the ultimate test for Parkinsonian syndromes, it can be a valuable addition to the clinical evaluation and to any other tests that the physician feels necessary to help confirm or exclude the diagnosis. The value of DaTscan is to increase the physician’s confidence in the diagnosis, especially early in the course of the disease.