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A DATScan is used to help differentiate between essential tremor or  a possible parkinsonian symptom.

On the day of a DATScan you will go in 4 hrs prior to the actual scan. They will give you an iodine drink that taste like stale water and then inject you with a radioactive tracer. It is not enough to hurt you. Then you go home and 4 hours later you come back for the scan. In that 4 hrs the iodine stops you thyroid from gathering the radio tracer and allows it to pass the blood brain barrier. Once in there the radio tracer attaches the dopamine uptake cells in the substansia nigra.  When they do the scan using gamma radiation it shows up as bright spot on the picture of the brain. They then compare the size shape and brightness to determine if the brain has a loss of dopamine cells or if something else is going on.

Correction It wont tell your doctor

It will tell the doctor  if you have Parkinson's or not but will help them determine a better diagnosis based on what they have found clinically.

Hope this helps

Blessings
Adam

 

Edited by adams234

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Adam,  That's a thorough answer and very helpful though I think that in your last sentence you may have intended to say "It will not tell your doctor if you have Parkinson's .....

My understanding is that the test is not a diagnostic tool for PD.

Regards, Gardener

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The test has risks and few benefit sand it costs a lot of money hospitals love..A radioactive dye is given to help show results which can damage your thyroid.Why these tests are forced on us when a simple Sinemet challenge puzzles me?MJF foundation doesn't recommend it should be enough to stay away.

Maybe things would improve for many here is we were more looked on as patients instead of customers.

best

john

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My MDS is really pushing the datscan to me. I'm unresponsive to pd drugs, including sinemet. Now I'm trying primidone. My main symptom is tremors. My tremors haven't responded to any drug yet. I'm not a fan of the datscan test but I'm afraid my dr. will require it.

Edited by chuck172

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On ‎3‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 7:46 PM, Gardener said:

Adam,  That's a thorough answer and very helpful though I think that in your last sentence you may have intended to say "It will not tell your doctor if you have Parkinson's .....

My understanding is that the test is not a diagnostic tool for PD.

Regards, Gardener

Thanks for correction. My mistake. I wanted to type will not but forgot the not in my statement.

Good catch.

I agree with every statement on here. The Scan is expensive and not conclusive. I did it because at the time I had great insurance that coved the whole thing with a $20 copay. It also helped me get into the isradipine study and find my current MDS. All was not lost in having it done in my case.

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19 hours ago, adams234 said:

It also helped me get into the isradipine study and find my current MDS. All was not lost in having it done in my case.

Hello Adams, I am 45 and dealing with diagnosis difficulties. Wondering prior to your scan DX at 35 what were your main symptoms? How did they make diagnosis difficult enough to seek a DATScan? With your results did you get on meds right away and how did you find your current MDS?

I am in a situation where I have high frequency tremors, an abnormal scan yet 2 MDS's telling me not PD... 

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Doubleup,

The first Neurologist I saw was a general neurologist who had and treated many Parkinson's patients. I went to him after I noticed that my right arm had stopped swinging, my right hand would curl up into a fist, and I had stiffness in my neck and shoulders. I also noticed a minor tremor in my right middle finger. He said he strongly suspects that I have PD after going through a battery of test.

He then recommended that I go to the University of Rochester's Movement Disorder Clinic. His hope is they would want to do a DatScan, the only test he did not do and did not have the ability to do. He was also hoping there would be a study I could join since I was young and a rare case. The first MDS I saw I was not impressed with. She did order the DatScan because of my young age to make sure I was not have some other issue. I went through with the DatScan and received a copy of it in the mail a week later. It also included a results letter from the examining neuro. It stated that my scan was consistent with PD if clinical results suggested PD as well. I then got a call from the clinic asking if I would like to join a study. I said yes. On my first study appointment they did the clinical exam then looked at the DatScan results and accepted me into the study. The study lead neurologist was accepting new patients so I had her become my main MDS.

Once I was part of the study I had to remain off meds till I had completed six months of the study. It was a struggle but I stuck with it. Once I had my Six month study appointment we started with Azilects then 2 months later added sinement or C/L. I felt so much better.

The search is tough, some much of the diagnosis process is subjective and base solely off of a neurologist opinion.

I hope you find the answers you are looking for.

Can I ask. Are you having other symptoms as well as the tremors? 

 

  • Thanks 1

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Thank you for sharing your story! It seems everyone has had different process in diagnosis and it is really frustrating to read what so many have been thru. 

Yes I have a lot of symptoms and happy to share, however most of them what are referred to secondary symptoms which of course can also have a number of other causes other than PD so docs like to explore and point to all those possibilities first. 

Movement wise I am blessed so far besides fine tremors and some intermittent stiffness more like “painful legs” however legs only on certain days especially when I over do it. I am often very tired, sleep is mixed and some cognitive problems. The fatigue is almost my number one issue. I went thru some depression however have found mental stability with diet changes and exercise however my reward system is very compromised. I no longer get chills from great songs or really feel “happiness”  or excitement towards much of anything. I am happy for my kids and love making them happy for them but I am personally numb to it. It’s like I am observing everything but not absorbing.

I have had MRI, DATScan and PET scans and movement tests. The only thing abnormal in alignment with PD so far is my DATScan which showed symmetrically moderate reduction of about 2pts. I suspect either an exposure causing this Parkinsonism or perhaps I was just born with a smaller dopamine system and with age it is slowly affecting my ability to compensate. My tremors don’t affect my ability to do my job but handwriting is getting worse and fine hand work is usually better earlier in the day for me. I would trade some motor function for some of my cognitive symptoms however that could be argued if were true I suppose. 

Docs so far have just wanted me to take Zoloft and Wellbutrin which neither did anything for me except introduce more symptoms so am no longer taking those. I have considered making an appointment with the hospitals neurology department that actually did my scan to see what they have to say as thus far my MDS even another at Stanford told me I don’t need to come back unless something substantial changes.

Anyway sorry this is long, I could could go on and on as these issues have been (around likely for years) really affecting me about a year now and I live day by day not really knowing how to expect the next day to feel or what to do to next.

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I see you said that you had symmetrically moderate reduction. I wonder if the doctors suspect something other than Parkinson's. From what I have researched and heard from my MDS generally people have reduced uptake on one side greater than the other. Example, My DatScan came back with "Moderate reduction on both sides with the left side greater than the right. Impression is consistent with a diagnosis of Parkinson's based on clinical results."

I am not a doctor and this is just my opinion based on my limited knowledge.

I would post your results in the ask the doctor section with a list of your symptoms and see what his advice is.

Blessings

Adam

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29 minutes ago, adams234 said:

I see you said that you had symmetrically moderate reduction. I wonder if the doctors suspect something other than Parkinson's. From what I have researched and heard from my MDS generally people have reduced uptake on one side greater than the other. Example, My DatScan came back with "Moderate reduction on both sides with the left side greater than the right. Impression is consistent with a diagnosis of Parkinson's based on clinical results."

I am not a doctor and this is just my opinion based on my limited knowledge.

I would post your results in the ask the doctor section with a list of your symptoms and see what his advice is.

Blessings

Adam

Thank you Adam! 

Yes I agree from my research as well. That’s why I was thinking maybe Parkinsonism/reduction due to environmental exposure or something that could have affected me differently than typically PD. I did ask the Doc and he just said to maybe try another scan in a year and maybe a doc would have me try Sinemet. I asked more questions however haven’t heard back yet.

So likely a just a waiting game for me. The scan was expensive however if I can’t get any answers I will likely retest at some point. For now I just don’t want to start a Med too early (especially since my movement is ok) or at all if it’s not the right direction for me. 

Thank you for your thoughts and kind words. God bless

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