Role of DAT-SPECT in the diagnostic work up of Parkinsonism

Christoph Scherfler, Johannes Schwarz, Angelo Antonini, Donald Grosset, Francesc Valldeoriola, Kenneth Marek, Wolfgang Oertel, Eduardo Tolosa, Andrew J. Lees, Werner Poewe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) can be achieved with high degrees of accuracy in cases with full expression of classical clinical features. However, diagnostic uncertainty remains in early disease with subtle or ambiguous signs. Functional imaging has been suggested to increase the diagnostic yield in parkinsonian syndromes with uncertain clinical classification. Loss of striatal dopamine nerve terminal function, a hallmark of neurodegenerative Parkinsonism, is strongly related to decreases of dopamine transporter (DAT) density, which can be measured by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The use of DAT-SPECT facilitates the differential diagnosis in patients with isolated tremor symptoms not fulfilling PD or essential tremor criteria, drug-induced, psychogenic and vascular Parkinsonism as well as dementia when associated with Parkinsonism. This review addresses the value of DAT-SPECT in early differential diagnosis, and its potential as a screening tool for subjects at risk of developing PD as well as issues around the assessment of disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1238
Number of pages10
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2007


  • Differential diagnosis
  • Dopamine transporter
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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