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New scan can speed Parkinson’s diagnosis

Doctors say patients who may have degenerative disease can cut down on wait for treatment

By Karen Schwartz, Special to the Tribune, www.chicagotribune.com/health

A new scan to help in difficult-to-diagnose cases ofParkinson’s disease or other parkinsonian syndromes is available at more than 80 U.S. hospitals, including some in the Chicago area, since receiving federal approval earlier this year.

During the DaTscan test, an imaging drug is injected into a patient’s bloodstream and the patient undergoes a single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, scan. Patients with Parkinson’s disease or other parkinsonian syndromes have scans that show low levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter critical in controlling movement and other muscle functions.

In cases where a diagnosis isn’t necessarily clear-cut, the DaTscan offers important advances in patient care and treatment, said Dr. Michael Rezak, director of the Movement Disorders Center at Central DuPage Hospital, where the scan is offered.

“DaTscan is used in difficult-to-diagnose cases and must be used in conjunction with a clinical evaluation and a patient’s response to medications,” Rezak said. “The earlier we get treatment started, the better. Before DaTscan we would watch and wait because there were no other objective tests to use. Now we can get a diagnosis sooner.” Click here to read the rest of the article.

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