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  • A DaTscan test, available at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, may help determine if a person's symptoms are the result of a parkinsonian syndrome. Scan images from GE Healthcare.

    A DaTscan test, available at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, may help determine if a person's symptoms are the result of a parkinsonian syndrome. Scan images from GE Healthcare.

    "It was a relief when she said Parkinson's"

    DaTscan, a relatively new test, can help diagnose Parkinson’s disease

    by Cole Cosgrove

    Her friends noticed first: Eileen Kellogg kept falling.

    The 69-year-old Sumner woman couldn't seem to keep her balance.

    “I was falling every day, so I thought there must be something really wrong,” Kellogg said. “I was scared and I wanted to know what it was.”

    Kellogg’s neurologist, Dr. Kim Mebust, also wanted to know what was causing the falls.

    So Dr. Mebust recommended a relatively new test that’s now available at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and MultiCare Auburn Medical Center.

    Called DaTscan, the test on May 9 helped Dr. Mebust diagnose Kellogg with Parkinson’s disease.

    “It was a relief when she said Parkinson’s,” Kellogg said. “I didn’t know what was happening, so I feel a lot better that I know. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t going crazy or something.”

    Kellogg says her mother also had Parkinson’s, but there was no way to definitively test for it before she died.

    “I did the DaTscan because in the past, we had to rely solely on a patient's physical examination findings,” Dr. Mebust said. “Sometimes symptoms of Parkinson's disease can be subtle. At other times, when we look at someone with a tremor, it may be difficult to determine if it is a ‘benign tremor’ or one associated with Parkinson's disease. The DaTscan can be a helpful tool in making a diagnosis.”

    Kellogg said she is on medication, and it’s helping. She also praised Dr. Mebust.

    “She treats you as a human being, as a person,” Kellogg said. “She’s really interested in your story. She’s not hurrying you up. She cares and she’s there for you. Once you get a good doctor, don’t let go.”

    To reach Dr. Mebust, call 253-697-4747. Dr. Mebust practices at the MultiCare Neuroscience Center of Washington in Tacoma, the Rieder Medical Building in Puyallup, and the MultiCare Sleep Medicine Center in Auburn.

    More about DaTscan

    DaTscan is an imaging drug that is injected into the bloodstream to help your doctor assess a chemical involved in controlling movement, called dopamine, according to the GE Healthcare website. A special device, called a gamma camera, takes pictures of your brain, then the pictures and a report are sent to your doctor, who can discuss the test results with you, GE says. The DaTscan results may help determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are the result of a parkinsonian syndrome, GE says.

    According to the GE Healthcare website: Parkinsonian syndromes occur when the brain is not getting enough of the dopamine it needs to perform certain functions. This affects the ability of the brain to control movement and other muscle functions. In combination with other tests and the clinical assessment of your particular symptoms, DaTscan may help your doctor determine if you are suffering from a parkinsonian syndrome.

    Posted on Aug 19, 2013 in Stroke & Neurosciences