Parkinson’s Test – DaTscan™

Advanced Medical Imaging (AMI) is the only facility in the Lincoln area to offer DaTscan™, a new test that helps physicians determine if a patient may have a parkinsonian syndrome (PS), the most well-known syndrome of those being Parkinson’s Disease (PD). DaTscan™ is a radiopharmaceutical that is administered prior to a SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scan to help a radiologist see whether or not there is degeneration of dopamine transporters in the brain. Studying this degeneration, along with a patient’s changes in functioning helps physicians to determine if a patient’s symptoms may be related to a PS or rather an essential tremor (ET).

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Shuffling
  • Instability
  • Walking issues
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Speech changes
  • Trouble writing
  • Slowed or loss of voluntary movement

Advanced Medical Imaging’s group of physicians includes multiple neuroradiologists. These specialists are the experts at diagnosing neurological abnormalities. Patients interested in finding out if this test could give them the answers they are looking for should ask their neurologist or primary care provider if a DatScan™ at AMI is right for them.

For local support for Parkinson’s patients, visit the Lincoln Parkinson’s Disease Support Group website.

Images courtesy of GE Healthcare

What to Expect

Patients do not have change their eating or drinking routines for this test. They should wear comfortable clothing and be prepared and able to lie still for 45 minutes in a very close imaging environment.  Patients will be asked to remove hearing aids and any devices that contain metal from neck up prior to imaging. 

First, the patient will be given an oral potassium iodide pill. After one hour of taking the pill, the the patient will receive an intravenous injection, usually in the arm, of the radioactive imaging tracer I-123 DaTscan™. Images will not be taken for three hours after the injections and patients are allowed to leave the facility during that time. When they return, they will lie on a table where they will be scanned by a nuclear medicine gamma camera. The scanner is open on all sides and two cameras reside within a large ring sit 180 degrees of each other. The cameras are able to move up and down the length of the table and are also able to rotate around the table. Taking the images will take 30-45 minutes.
Patients should not feel any side effects and should be able to return to their normal daily activities directly after the scan. It is recommended that patients hydrate well for 48 hours after the scan to help void the medications.