For those experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Harbin Clinic’s newest diagnostic test can help answer tough questions, optimize treatment regimens and give patients peace of mind.
Home to the only imaging equipment in Northwest Georgia that performs this type of scan, Harbin Clinic Imaging Rome is now offering DaTscan Imaging for those displaying tremors and other Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
“It’s unique that we’re the only medical facility in the region that offers DaTscans,” says Harbin Clinic Neurologist, Dr. David Hale. “That shows Harbin Clinic is committed to providing the best and most up-to-date diagnostic tools and treatment options for our patients.”
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Simply put, a DaTscan is an image of the brain that helps physicians determine whether a patient is suffering from Essential Tremor, Parkinson’s Disease or a similar Parkinsonian Syndrome.
Dopamine, an organic chemical in the brain, acts as a neurotransmitter which helps the brain control many things, including motor functions. When Dopamine Transporters (DaT) fail to transmit properly, the decrease in dopamine in turn causes the tremors and motor skill issues that are hallmarks of Parkinson’s Disease.
The DaTscan does not diagnose Parkinson’s Disease, but instead is used as a diagnostic tool for determining the root problem of Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms.
“A DaTscan helps to clarify the diagnosis,” explains Dr. Hale. “If a patient exhibits tremors or other Parkinson’s-like symptoms, but has an unclear examination result, a DaTscan can be extremely helpful.”
Dr. Hale adds that DaTscan may also be ordered for a patient displaying Parkinson’s-like symptoms, but who isn’t responding to medication and therapy.
What Happens When Getting a DaTscan?
“Getting a DaTscan is a day-long process,” says Dr. Hale. “The person getting the scan will receive a thyroid-blocking injection because DaTscan rays can be harmful to the thyroid. Then, an hour or so later, they’ll be injected with the imaging agent.”
The imaging agent, Ioflupane I 123, allows the scan to track and capture an image of the brain’s dopamine activity.
Before the patient gets the DaTscan, the injection must make its way through the body, which can take three to four hours.
Similar to the process of getting an MRI, the patient lies down and a gamma camera records images of the patient’s brain.
Because the pre-DaTscan process takes several hours, Dr. Hale says patients are brought in to get their injections in the morning, and then can leave, grab some lunch, sight-see and come back for their scan in the afternoon.
So, does a patient who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease need a DaTscan to confirm diagnosis? In most cases, no. When someone with Parkinson’s disease is responding well to treatments and dopaminergic therapy, a DaTscan usually won’t add any new information.
Caring Completely for Parkinson’s Patients
Every case of Parkinson’s disease is different. Harbin Clinic knows the benefits of DaTscan technology, how it can be used to enhance patient care and also how it can give peace of mind to those with or without Parkinson’s.
“Being able to settle the question of whether someone has Parkinson’s once and for all can help guide future treatments,” says Dr. Hale.
If you’re curious about DaTscan technology at Harbin Clinic call 706.236.6320 or visit harbinclinic.com/imaging-services.