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Topic Do you really have PD? The DAT scan. Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By lurkingforacure On 2012.08.14 22:40
I'm posting this separately so everyone can see it and know about it.

Currently, doctors say they cannot confirm you actually had PD during your lifetime until you have died and they do an autopsy and find Lewy Bodies in the brain. If they find them, you had PD, if not, you didn't. Lots of good that does, huh? Some people who never showed PD symptoms have Lewy Bodies, but shouldn't, and some people who had textbook PD symptoms don't, but should!

There is a PET scan but it is not particularly helpful in determining whether one actually has PD. I think it only shows dopamine activity in the brain which I am learning can vary tremendously for reasons unrelated to cell loss.

Now, however, there is a new scan called the DAT scan. It can actually measure dopamine levels and cell loss. I know of one lady who has had PD for 27 years, half of her life. She just got the scan and learned that while she does have low dopamine levels (whatever "low" is-maybe what is low for the average person is normal for her, like blood cell counts), she does NOT have cell loss. They cannot explain to her why she might have low dopamine levels without accompanying cell loss as is typically seen. She is currently working on weaning off of the PD meds but after 27 years, well, you can imagine what that is like.

At any rate, if you have any doubt about your dx, insist on the DAT scan. I think GE came out with it last year, and it is pricey, but so is taking PD meds for 27 years when you might not have needed them in the first place. At the very least, it might confirm what someone is dealing with.

By roseofhisheart On 2012.08.15 18:07
I had the SPECT scan and it clearly showed my Parkinson's. It has been approved by the FDA as a diagnostic tool. MJ Fox Foundation funds this institute.

From the Institute of Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, CT

Over the past decade researchers at IND have developed and utilized dopamine transporter imaging in several studies to evaluate the diagnosis and monitor progression of Parkinson disease. In our studies, dopamine transporter imaging using [123I] -CIT SPECT discriminated between individuals with Parkinson disease and healthy subjects with a sensitivity of about 98%.

The figure below is an example of an image using [123I] -CIT SPECT in a patient with Parkinson disease and a healthy control. In this figure, the striatum, the area of the brain most affected by Parkinson disease, shows less uptake of [123I] -CIT in the Parkinson patient compared to the healthy control subject.

In addition to dopamine transporter imaging, several other imaging modalities evaluating neurochemical systems are under development. Neurochemical changes other than dopamine may be responsible for the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease including depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and change in cognition. Understanding these neurochemical changes in the brain offers the opportunity to develop medications to improve both the motor and non-motor symptoms that occur in Parkinson disease.

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