March 1, 2012 Saint Peter's Healthcare System Community Calendar Featured Article.
At Saint Peter’s University
Hospital, the latest technology is
helping to diagnose Parkinson’s
disease. With the use of the imaging
drug Ioﬂupane I123, also called DaTscan,
doctors are able to get an accurate
picture of how well the body uses
dopamine, the chemical the body needs
to control movement.
When Ioﬂupane, a radiopharmaceutical
used in nuclear medicine, is injected
into the body, it is possible for a special
camera to take pictures of the brain,
speciﬁcally the area of the brain where
dopamine is found. The imaging
process is called SPECT – Single
Photon Emission Computer Tomography.
It is the SPECT technology that makes it
possible to create 3-dimensional images
of the brain which are then used to
create the ﬁnal transverse images read
The challenge for physicians is to
differentiate Parkinsonian syndromes
from other conditions that mimic it. While
the symptoms are similar, treatment
and management greatly differ. Having
another diagnostic tool to help rule out
one of these conditions will be tremendously helpful in reaching an appropriate
and timely diagnosis for patients.
Nanik Khiamal, lead nuclear medicine technologist, views brain scans in the Radiology Department at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.
According to the National Parkinson
Foundation, 50,000 to 60,000 new cases
of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed
each year in the U.S. Although stiffness
can be a symptom, patients who have
Parkinson’s usually cope with uncontrolled movement of the body or tremors.
Symptoms ﬂare up because the brain is
not getting enough of the dopamine it
needs. This in turn affects the ability of
the brain to control movement and other
In order to protect the thyroid from
unnecessary radiation, an oral liquid
medication is given to the patient. The
radiopharmaceutical used for the scan is
iodine-based and could be absorbed by
the thyroid. The medication blocks the
absorption of the radiopharmaceutical
in the thyroid but does not block the
absorption in the area of interest in the
brain. An hour after the oral medication
is ingested by the patient, the radio-
pharmaceutical is injected through an
intravenous (IV) line in the arm. It must be
distributed through the patient’s body and
absorbed by the area of interest in the
brain. This process takes a minimum of
When the patient is ready for the imaging
portion of the study, he/she is placed on
a table with a camera positioned over his/
her head. The patient’s head is placed in
a special holder to assist in maintaining
his/her position and restrict movement
which is an essential part of obtaining the
study. The imaging portion of the test lasts
approximately 30 minutes.
Before this new procedure, an accurate
diagnosis for patients with a neurodegenerative movement disorder, such as
Parkinson’s disease, could have taken up
to six years.
This new imaging technology is a step in
the right direction for timely and accurate
diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses
slowly in most people. It is one of several
Parkinsonian syndromes. Patients can
live with the condition for 20 years or
more. While Parkinson’s disease itself is
not fatal, complications from the disease
can be. While there is no cure, treatment
is available to help control symptoms.
Brain cells, called neurons, produce a
chemical called dopamine in a speciﬁc
part of the brain called the substantia
nigra. Dopamine helps humans to have
smooth coordinated muscle movements.
When approximately 60 to 80% of the
dopamine-producing cells are damaged,
and do not produce enough dopamine,
the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
appear, speciﬁcally body tremors.
Source: National Parkinson Foundation
Call 732-745-8600, ext. 6517
for radiology scheduling. Visit
to learn about radiology services at
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