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The latest technology is helping physicians to diagnose Parkinson's disease at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. Nuclear medicine technologists are using the imaging drug loflupane 1123, also called DaTscan, to give doctors an accurate picture of how well the body uses dopamine – the chemical the body needs to control movement. In Parkinson’s symptoms, body tremors appear when approximately 60 to 80 percent of dopamine-producing cells are damaged and unable to produce enough of the chemical.
The DaTscan imaging test is done in the Nuclear Medicine Department at Saint Peter’s. When the radiopharmaceutical DaTscan 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). SPECT technology makes it possible to create 3-dimensional images of the brain which are then used to create the final transverse images read by radiologists.
Parkinson's disease 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 substantianigra. Dopamine helps humans to have smooth coordinated muscle movements. Read more about Parkinson's disease and DaTScan testing here.
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