Crozer, DCMH Now Offer DaTscan Imaging Service to Help Diagnose Parkinson’s
Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Delaware County Memorial Hospital recently began offering DaTscan, the only FDA-approved medical imaging agent that is used to differentiate between parkinsonian syndrome and essential tremor. Crozer is Delaware County’s first hospital to offer this service.
Norman Leopold, D.O., medical director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, says that the procedure can be valuable for physicians looking to diagnose why patients may be suffering from symptoms that are common to Parkinson’s disease, such as tremors, loss of balance or coordination, shuffling walk, or other movement problems. It is generally used as an adjunct to other tests.
“The DaTscan is a useful scan for patients with illnesses that look like Parkinson’s disease. It is particularly helpful in separating out patients who have parkinsonism secondary to medication; those patients with tremor such as benign essential tremor that may have other features suggesting Parkinson’s disease; or those with psychogenic parkinsonism,” Leopold says. “A positive test is not an indication the patient has Parkinson’s disease, as there are other degenerative central nervous system illnesses that will also have positive tests. However, a negative test is very useful in supporting a diagnosis of something other than one of these degenerative neurological illnesses.”
“Being able to definitively differentiate between Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors is something we have not been able to do before. DaTscan provides us with that capability, and for that reason we expect it to be a valuable diagnostic tool,” says Thomas DiLiberto, D.O., chairman of the Radiology Department at DCMH.
DaTscan begins with the patient drinking Lugol’s Iodine Solution prior to injection of an imaging drug into a patient’s bloodstream. About three to six hours late, the patient undergoes a single photo emission computed tomography (SPECT-CT) scan. The SPECT-CT images of the patient’s brain are examined by a radiologist.
“Specifically, the scan aims to detect the loss of nerve cells in an area of the brain called the striatum, specifically the cells that release dopamine, a chemical messenger,” says Khozaim Nakhoda, M.D., director of Nuclear Imaging at Crozer. “Parkinsonian syndrome occurs when your brain is not getting enough dopamine to perform certain functions. This creates problems for the brain’s ability to control movement and other muscle functions.”
Parkinson’s disease is typically diagnosed by taking a detailed history of the symptoms that the patient is experiencing and examining the patient for any tell-tale signs of parkinsonism Confirmation of the diagnosis is usually made if there is a positive reaction to the drugs used to treat the disease.
The prep for the DaTscan test is relatively simple. Patients are asked to drink plenty of fluids and go to the bathroom frequently before the test; wear loose, comfortable clothing because you will have to lie still for a period of time; and bring a list of all the medications they are taking.
For more information and to schedule a DaTscan appointment at Crozer, call 1-866-5-CK-XRAY (1-866-525-9729). To schedule an appointment at DCMH, call (610) 284-8333. For more information about the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, call (610) 874-1184.