Spect Brain DaTscan

The Spect Brain DaTscan™, available at many of our locations, ensures our patients receive accurate neurological diagnoses and in turn, the proper treatment for their neurological conditions.

A Spect Brain DaTscan is a nuclear imaging test that allows doctors to view the brain’s dopamine levels and determine whether the brain’s neurons have degenerated. This gives physicians the ability to quickly and accurately diagnose Parkinsonian syndromes in patients. Until now, no definitive test was available to differentiate Parkinson’s from other movement disorders, such as essential tremor.

The test combines a medication, called DaTscan, with imaging technology known as single photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT.

DaTscan is injected into the bloodstream and concentrates itself in the area of the brain associated with Parkinson’s disease without disrupting brain function. This allows doctors to view whether the patient’s brain is producing normal or abnormal levels of dopamine using a gamma camera.

Low levels of dopamine in the brains of Parkinson’s patients are associated with the various symptoms of the disease. Other movement disorders, like essential tremor, originate in different areas of the brain and are not linked to decreased dopamine production.

In order to properly image the brain, the scan process has several steps. First, DaTscan, the radioactive medication, is administered via intravenous injection. Since the chemical contains radioactive iodine, you receive a drug dosage to safely withstand the radiation. The agent then slowly makes its way to the area of your brain that produces dopamine (the basal ganglia).

Once DaTscan has established itself in your brain, you will lie still for up to 30 minutes. Your head will be placed on a comfortable headrest and a gamma camera positioned close to your head will take images.

In order to ensure you have a safe and comfortable procedure, your doctors and nursing staff will provide you with any additional treatment options you may require during your scan.

DaTscan is a type of X-ray imaging test, therefore a small amount of radiation exposure is common. Because the exposure is minimal, however, the test itself has been shown to be a proven method for safe imaging and is not associated with any health risks. Any complications that may occur during the procedure relate to how the DaTscan agent is injected. These complications can include minor bleeding or swelling at the injection site.