Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

High-powered MRI may provide Test for Parkinson’s


One of the peculiarities of Parkinson’s Disease is that there is no definitive test for it. To be sure, you get a battery of tests on the NHS, but they (blood tests and an “ordinary” MRI scan) are all to check for alternative diagnoses, not to see if you actually do have Parkinson’s. There is a scan which makes use of a radioactive chemical called Ioflupane (123I), or DaTSCAN – this makes dopamine transmitters visible to a gamma camera, and so should allow levels of dopamine to be registered. However, it is not a conclusive test and is often considered too expensive. When I asked my consultant about it, he was quite dismissive (whether because it was unlikely to work in my case or because of the cost, I am not sure).

Only yesterday, I came across an article that suggested that many cases of Parkinson’s were misdiagnosed.  It seems to have been news in 2006. Which is quite a long time ago; the implication in the article is that GPs (family doctors) lacked experience with Parkinson’s and that a specialist should make the diagnosis (they do this by knowing what to look for – it’s quite vague but experience, it seems, helps a lot).

Anyway. Back to the matter referred to in the title. A research institute in Canada has a 7 Tesla MRI machine – exceptionally strong for a medical design (standard medical MRIs are around 1.5 Tesla) – which allows them to get a particularly high-definition scan of the brain. Apparently, it is possible to see the difference between a Parkinsonian brain and a normal one using this equipment.

Read about the Robarts Research Institute (University of Western Ontario) and their MRI scanner here:

No doubt cost would preclude the instantaneous roll-out of machines like this to every neurology department in the UK (or any other country), but hopefully at some point such diagnostic tools could be available and would help to prevent misdiagnosis and, as noted in the article, aid early diagnosis (although how they will know who to test and when is another matter entirely).


2 thoughts on “High-powered MRI may provide Test for Parkinson’s

  1. Hi Zalamanda,

    My mother was diagnosed with parkinson’s in 2001. The symptoms though had shown as early as 1991. Tremors we saw much later but apart from the motor symptoms there were psychological symptoms though her movements had slowed down. She was under constant stress and found it difficult to make choices. The doctors she met in this decade medicated her for several different ailments depending on their specialisations, which we feel now did very little to help.

    Recently she went through deep brain stimulation surgery at All India Institue of Medical Sciences. We had to go for several meetings with the neurologist for reaching optimum programming and there we met with a patient who had early onset of parkinson’s which was misdiagnosed and mistreated. The medications he had received had adverse reactions. Information and expertise even in the medical fraternity is quite limited regarding diagnosis of the condition is concerned.

    My mother has fought the battle courageously and we are quite proud of her. Hope you are doing well .

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