Fifty thousand to 60,000 new cases of Parkinson's disease are diagnosed in the United States each year. Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) in Winfield, Ill., is among the first medical centers in North America to be using a new technology called DaTscan, an imaging tool that aids doctors in diagnosing patients who demonstrate Parkinsonian symptoms, like Parkinson's disease. DaTscan is the first and only objective diagnostic tool approved by the FDA to be used for differentiating Parkinsonian syndromes from other movement disorders.
"DaTscan serves as a supplemental resource to a doctor's clinical evaluation of Parkinsonism and truly helps with patients whose symptoms are inconclusive or who have a confusing diagnosis," said Michael Rezak, M.D., Ph.D., director, Movement Disorders Center at CDH. "With DaTscan, doctors can now diagnose Parkinsonism earlier and initiate appropriate treatments sooner."
DaTscan, developed by GE Healthcare, is an imaging test used to assess dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine affects the ability of the brain to control movement and other muscle functions. The imaging drug is injected into a patient's bloodstream and labels the dopamine neurons. A single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scanner is then used to measure the amount and location of the drug in the brain. Patients with Parkinson's disease, or other Parkinsonian syndromes, including multiple system atrophy (MSA) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) among others, will have scans that show low levels of dopamine.
Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Although DaTscan cannot differentiate between the different Parkinsonian syndromes, it can help rule out other movement disorders, like essential tremor.
"DaTscan is a great addition to our Neuroscience Institute here at CDH. Overall, doctors in all medical centers carrying this tool can have more confidence in diagnosing patients with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders," said Rezak.