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Non-invasive test can detect Parkinson’s disease and dementia

TEXAS (KIAH) – About a million people in the US are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Over 52,000 people are Texans. According to the Parkinson Foundation, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease.

There is a non-invasive imaging test that can help diagnose Parkinson’s disease and even dementia.

Dopamine transporter scanning, or Datscan, is the first imaging agent approved by the FDA for use in brain imaging. DaTscan is a radioactive agent that is injected into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, where it can be easily seen using a special imaging technology called a SPECT camera.

According to the Houston Methodist Hospital, imaging agent activity on a conventional scan will show up as a mirror comma or crescent if enough dopamine transporters (DaTs) are not damaged or affected. An abnormal scan will show activity in a round or oval shape on one or both sides.

“This imaging agent is a step in the right direction for the timely and accurate diagnosis of patients with parkinsonian syndromes, including Parkinson’s disease,” said Toby Yalto, MD, a movement disorder neurologist at Sugar Land Methodist Hospital, Houston. “Without these detailed brain images, we rely solely on clinical examinations, which can be inconclusive, especially in the early stages of the disease.”

DaTscan is used in several district hospitals and imaging centers.

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