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ETMC offers state-of-the-art testing in diagnosing types of movement disorders

Dat ScanDaTscan™, a test newly available at ETMC, is expected to be a significant asset in the evaluation of patients who may have Parkinson's disease or other movement disorders.

"This is a new diagnostic imaging procedure that offers more definitive data than we've ever had in the evaluation of patients with movement disorders," said George M. Plotkin, PhD., MD, a neurologist with the ETMC Movement Disorder Center.

A variety of movement disorders have similar symptoms, but each requires a different treatment approach. The amount of a chemical known as dopamine in a patient's brain distinguishes between conditions such as Parkinson's disease and essential tremor,drug-induced symptoms or the neuro degenerative conditions grouped into Parkinson's plus syndromes. 

Previously, a series of questions and answers posed by physicians to patients, as well as laboratory and medication tests,have been the source for diagnosis.

"It's been a matter of seeing which medication helped a patient's symptoms until now," Dr. Plotkin said. "Now we can gather data in a new way."

"DaTscan™ received FDA priority review because it addressed a previously unmet clinical need. In testing, DaTscan™, a radiopharmaceutical from GE Healthcare, is injected prior to an imaging scan for the patient, and it serves to highlight and contrast with chemicals in the brain.

"The scan allows us to determine if a patient has a loss of dopamine. By distinguishing between patients who have dopamine loss and those who don't, we're provided data that assists in pinpointing the nature of a patient's disorder faster," Dr. Plotkin said. "Ultimately it means we can move quickly in the treatment direction the patient requires."

That means helping patients return to and maintain a more normal life while living with a movement disorder.