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I have to have one of these soon and am wondering if they can lead to something positive or are a waste of time. What is the difference between one of these tests and an MRI of which I have had 2?

Losing faith in the medical profession.

Any help will be gratefully received.


There is a world of difference between the two scans. The MRI is used to exclude many other conditions - it cannot give a diagnosis of PD, but can eliminate many other possible diagnoses. The DAT scan, however, can 'see' Dopamine, so while perhaps falling short of being a 100% accurate test it is nevertheless a test for PD rather than for everything else!
My own DAT scan was inconclusive, so they are not infallible. My result put me "at the bottom end of normality" which meant about 50% Dopamine remained, and this was both sides of the brain. Since symptoms usually only materialise when Dopamine levels reach 20%, I had to ask why my right side was nearly useless without the help of medication while my right was - then - near normal. I never did get an answer to that one.
The good news is this test is not done in a claustrophobic tunnel, and is a lot quieter - but you have to keep stock still for about 45 minutes, lying on a couch.
Good luck - I hope you get a helpful result.


Spot the deliberate mistake!

I meant to say my right side was useless while my LEFT was near normal. Pity about the rest of my brain - I think the last living cell is about to call it a day!!



Hi Moodyblue....can you inform me, just what is a DAT test? I've had an MRI, for a shoulder injury....worst experience of my life....medically, that is. Thought it would give me a heart attack. What does D-A-T stand for?
I expect the specialist will want me to have one, too...when I see him.


D-A-T, or more correctly DaT is an abbreviation for Dopamine Transporter.
A DaT scan is a test which shows how much Dopamine is being produced by the patient using a radioactive isotope that renders Dopamine visible to a gamma camera.
It is completely painless, but very boring, lying stock still on a couch for 45 minutes while this 'thing' slowly moves around your head, a few inches away, studying the brain from all angles.



When I wrote the previous post, I didn't realise you were in the US. I believe that DaT Scan is only available in Europe currently ...... our cousins across the pond have yet to adopt it.


Kathy C


I live in Cheshire and I was told by my neurologist when I was diagnosed (3 years ago) that the DAT scan was not available in my area, as it is too expensive. My PD nurse also said that the DAT scan does not conclusively show whether or not the patient has PD.

I was not offered an MRI scan either, just a CT scan to rule out other conditions like brain tumours etc. Other than that, I was diagnosed purely from my symptoms.

Just out of interest, has anyone else been told that they couldn't have a DAT scan?



Hi kathy, I was dx ten years ago and have never had a DAT scan. When I asked about having one recently I was told too expensive. I live in Liverpool.



HI everyone
Was dx May 2009 and right away, the neurologist referred me for a CT scan and a SPECT Scan (which is the same as a DAT scan.) CT scan came back clear but SPECT scan showed depletion of dopamine cells which indicated PD. It took approx 7 weeks to get the results of the scan as they have to be very careful as other brain disorders are so closely linked (MS, Motor neuron etc) so they have to be very accurate. The cost of the scan wasn’t mentioned at all and after my 2nd consultation my neurologist also gave me a print out of my scan to compare against a ‘normal’ brain scan so I could see for myself. The scan itself is painless. First they give you a pill to isolate your thyroid so that the dye goes straight to your brain then you have the scan which takes approx 45 mins. But they make you as comfortable as they can with cushions and I was even asked what type of music I would like to listen to (what goes with a brain scan??) I opted for Katie Meluah and just closed my eyes. The scan is painless but you do here the ‘click’ of the scanner as it works around your brain. Hope this helps
Have a nice Monday everyone
ps got sunburnt at the weekend – own stupid fault but we’re not used to this kind of weather in Scotland!!


I was sent in oct 08 and May 09 for two MRI scans by two different Neurologists.I was then referred to the tremor/movement disorder clinic.In the meantime i had received both scans back as negative.I thought i was okay,must have some weird type of anxiety disorder.In Nov 09 i was diagnosed with Parkinsons.I was told the MRI scans just rule out other problems.It was only when joining this site that i realised there was a DAT scan.I was never offered one.I know it is not available to all because of the cost.
On my 6 Monthly appointment a couple of weeks ago,i decided to inquire about the DAT scan.I was told i could go for one if i wanted to but the Neurologist thought it was unnecessary.I had to agree as my worsening symptoms do seem obvious.However there is always that niggling doubt that lingers isen't there.
I too hated that dreaded tunnel,talk about Claustrophobia.Glad to see that the DAT scan doesn't have one,for all those that are given the choice.
All the best


Hi Moodyblue (love that handle by the way)....

thanks for the info on the DAT. Oh, if they don't have it here in the US, that's why I'd never heard of it before. I would think that when the doc hears of my symptoms he'll have an idea I need a PD specialist. Yeah, that MRI was horrible. Never again. I'll refuse.


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