RANDOLPH, Vt.—The Nuclear Medicine team at Gifford Medical Center recently announced a new test, DaTscan, is available to assist in the diagnosis of tremor in patients when symptoms don’t tell the whole story.
Specifically, DaTscan helps a physician confirm diagnosis by distinguishing Parkinson’s disease or other parkinsonian syndromes (PS) from essential tremor (ET), a nervous system disorder characterized by rhythmic shaking. The test may be ordered when patients have mild or atypical symptoms that do not match the diagnostic criteria for either PS or ET, or when symptoms overlap or resemble those of different movement disorders.
“The test is most useful if the appearance of the tremor is atypical and the diagnosis is not straightforward,” said Gifford Neurologist Dr. Robin Schwartz. “Often the examination is enough to make this diagnosis, but in situations in which there is confusion, the scan becomes useful. There can be a small chance of false positive and false negative, as with any test, but it can be very helpful if the diagnosis of tremor is in question.”
Gifford Nuclear Medicine Supervisor Tera Benson explained that, without the test, patients might have to wait for their symptoms to progress before receiving clinical diagnosis.
“It is pretty exciting that we are able to offer this test locally, here at Gifford,” Benson said.
Produced by GE, DaTscan is the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved visual adjunct imaging agent to aid in the differentiation between essential tremor and parkinsonian syndromes. The test does not help in distinguishing between different parkinsonian syndromes. For more information about DaTscan, visit gehealthcare.com/en/products/nuclear-imaging-agents/datscan.
The Nuclear Medicine Department at Gifford offers specialized imaging that shows the function and structure of organs. These images are used to identify problems that routine X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs are unable to diagnose. For more information about Nuclear Medicine, including commonly performed tests, visit giffordhealthcare.org/nuclear-medicine.
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Gifford is a community hospital in Randolph, Vt., with family health centers in Berlin, Bethel, Chelsea, Randolph, Rochester, and White River Junction; and specialty services throughout central Vermont. A Federally Qualified Health Center and a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the country, Gifford is a full-service hospital with a 24-hour emergency department and inpatient unit; many surgical services; a day care; two adult day programs; and the 30-bed Menig Nursing Home, which was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best 39 nursing homes in the country in 2012. The Birthing Center, established in 1977, was the first in Vermont to offer an alternative to traditional hospital-based deliveries, and continues to be a leader in midwifery and family-centered care. The hospital’s mission is to improve individuals’ and community health by providing and assuring access to affordable, high-quality health care in Gifford’s service area.