Parkinson's diagnosis (DaTSCAN)

Within the context of a Parkinson diagnosis, this assessment provides a specific diagnosis of the brain (DaTSCAN). The study examines the functioning of particular neural bonds in a specific brain area. The aim is to obtain information about the cause of an existing or suspected movement disorder, such as Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, etc.

Other names: Brain scintigrapy, Brain scan Imaging, Dopamin (active) transporter scintigraphy, DaTSCANTM

Used radionuclide:  Iodine-123 FP-CIT

What is a DaTSCAN?

A DaTSCAN is a nuclear medical examination to examine the functioning of certain nerve connections in the brain (called dopamine transporter) and to present it figuratively in the form of images. The goal is to discover the cause of an existing or suspected movement disorder.

When is the examination is required (indication)?

A DaTSCAN is used in the diagnosis of pathological tremor (shaking), e.g. to distinguish organic disorders in certain syndromes of Parkinson (e.g. Parkinson's disease – commonly known as shaking palsy - or MSA) from the essential tremor. The essential tremor, is for example, a form of tremor without a directly identifiable basic neurological disease. It is one of the most common movement disorder in the general population, and it increases with age. Parkinson syndromes are, however, characterized by nerve cells perishing or degenerating in a specific area of the brain called the substantia nigra. In case of a loss of the nerve function of  the examined nerve connections, a decreased concentration of the radiolabeled substance can be observed during the examination. This is, however, not the case for other diseases such as essential tremor. In a normal failure of the examination, the Parkinson syndrome can be excluded to about 97%. In case of a pathological result, the exam can be possibly be followed by an IBZM scintigraphy for the differentiation of M. Parkinson's or MSA (multiple system atrophy).

How is the examination performed?

A small amount of radiolabeled substance is injected, into the blood stream or into a vein in the arm. Optimally, the substance accumulates after about 3 hours after the injection in the central areas of the brain (striatum) accumulates. During the examination, the patient must rest as calm as possible on the examination table for about 45 minutes. During this time, special tomographic images of the patient’s head are recorded with a so-called gamma camera that slowly rotates around the patient's head. The evaluation of the examination takes place directly after the recordings. A total of about five hours should be planned for the examination.  

Are special preparations necessary?

Since even the smallest amount of  a radioactive substance (containing radioactive iodine-123), can affect the thyroid, the thyroid gland is protected through the intake of 3x20 drops Irenat daily starting  with  the day before the examination until the day after the examination (this measure prevents the Iodine uptake into the thyroid gland) This medication should be taken with the meals.  

In addition, you should not have any coffee or black tee the day of the examination, and you should refrain from the use of tobacco. However, you do not have to fast.

Do medications have to be discontinued before the exam?

Some drugs affect the functions of the examined nerve connections. Ask your neurologist or nuclear medical physician beforehand about any medication that need to possibly be discontinued. Please bring a list of all medications you are taking with you to the examination.

Are there side effects?

The drug is usually well tolerated, side effects (such as dizziness, flushing, headache) and allergic reactions are extremely rare, and most often in terms of their intensity mild.

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