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January 2012
Featured Story

New Imaging Procedure Assists Doctors in Diagnosing Parkinson's

A new brain imaging procedure is now available at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) that may lead to more timely and appropriate diagnoses of parkinsonian syndromes (PS), including Parkinson’s disease (PD). NCH is among a select group of Illinois hospitals with GE Healthcare’s DaTscanTM, the first FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical imaging agent intended for use as an adjunct to clinical evaluations for patients with suspected PS.

DaTscan imaging visualizes normal (left) and abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain, a chemical lacking in patients with Parkinson's disease.

“Having this new imaging procedure keeps us on the cutting edge of nuclear medicine and radiology,” says NCH Radiologist Peter Cormier, MD. “We’re excited to support doctors with this level of imaging.”

DaTscan is a brain imaging study that incorporates a radiopharmaceutical imaging agent (Ioflupane I 123 Injection), which binds to the dopamine transporter protein on dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons. Using single photo emission computed tomography (SPECT), doctors can evaluate a patient’s brain function and specifically visualize detailed levels of dopamine in the brain – a chemical lacking in patients with PD.

According to Laura Goldstein, MD, chief of Neurology at NCH, diagnosing PD can be challenging. While movement disorders are primarily diagnosed through physical exams, these evaluations alone, particularly early in the disease, are often inconclusive and can result in a misdiagnosis. However, she adds that DaTscan is a big step in the right direction.

“Other neurological conditions like essential tremor can be mistaken for Parkinson’s because the symptoms are similar, so this new tool helps differentiate the diseases and to make an accurate diagnosis,” says Dr. Goldstein. “As a result, doctors can move faster toward reaching the proper treatment for a patient so the symptoms of their particular disease can be limited.”

With this new imaging technology available at NCH, the Hospital’s department of Nuclear Medicine has become a DaTscan Imaging Center of Excellence. For more information, please contact a radiologist in Imaging Services at 847.618.5850.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009