Fifty thousand to 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed in the United States each year. Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center has become one of the few medical centers in Pennsylvania to use 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,” says Dr. Renu Pokharna, a neurologist with Conemaugh Memorial’s Parkinson’s Disease Clinic. “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.
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 services at Conemaugh Memorial. Overall, doctors in all medical centers carrying this tool can have more confidence in diagnosing patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders,” adds Dr. Pokharna.
For more information, contact the Parkinson’s Disease Clinic at the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute at (814) 269-5061.
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