Guelph Medical Imaging unveils new ‘definitive’ exam to diagnose Parkinson’s
Guelph Medical Imaging (GMI) says a new exam now available at its clinic on Dawson Road is able to definitively tell patients if they have Parkinsonian Syndromes, such as Parkinson’s Disease.
DaTscan or Ioflupane is an imaging agent manufactured by GE Healthcare and was approved by Health Canada earlier this year.
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GMI said they are the only clinic in Ontario to offer DaTscan, which allows doctors to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease by injecting the radioactive drug into a person’s bloodstream to view a specific area of the brain with a specialized camera at the clinic.
“This actually is able to image degeneration of neurons in the brain, which is far beyond the anatomic pictures that CAT scans or MRI scans get,” said Dr. Rick Dubeau with GMI. “This test adds a lot of support to help manage these types of patients with various types of movement disorders.”
Dubeau said in a word, the exam provides “confidence.”
“This study brings a very high level of confidence to the managing physician to whether the patient is struggling with a neurodegenerative disorder within this area of the brain or not,” he explained.
The isotope has to be shipped in from The Netherlands for each patient at a cost of about US$2,300 to $2,600.
CEO of GMI Probash Mondal said while the exam isn’t covered by OHIP, for them it’s not about the money, it’s about providing answers.
“We will approach the government as we get more results here,” he said and added that it can save the province money if it was covered. “Doctors and scans aren’t getting those definitive answers. We can save that money by investing in one scan for the patient.”
GMI welcomed their first DaTscan patient on Friday who said she has been waiting for three years to get an answer about her visible tremors.
Sophie, who asked for her last name not to be published, said she was first told by some doctors that she had Parkinson’s Disease and then told by another doctor it was something else.
“So that’s why I’m here — to get a definitive diagnosis,” she said. “I think this will definitely help in terms of what direction I take in terms of treatment.”
Sophie added that she has had several MRIs and was only recently referred by her neurologist for a DaTscan.
“It takes six months on average to get an MRI done and even then, you had to argue with the professionals that you need it,” she said.
Dr. Dubeau said misdiagnosis is also common without this scan.
“That’s one of the problems with managing these types of patients when there’s a lot of clinical overlap between conditions that drugs may or may not be helpful with,” he said. “This is a really useful test to help clarify.”
The entire process from ordering the isotope from Europe to getting the results of the scan can be completed within a week or two.
The scan itself takes about 35 minutes.