Brain Imaging: DaT Scan

FACTS

  • DaT stands for dopamine transfer scan.
  • A radioactive tracer medication is injected into the vein and specialized imagery is used to visualize the dopamine system in the brain.
  • The scan provides information about the dopamine nerve endings in a specific area of the brain. These nerve cells are important to controlling movement.
  • The test is helpful in diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease
  • The DaT scan is ordered when a skin biopsy is not an option.

 

TEST SCHEDULING

  • Carolina Imaging is the provider of choice for brain images ordered by Memory & Movement Charlotte (MMC). They have multiple testing sites throughout the region.
  • Once the order is entered, the need for prior authorization from the insurance company will be determined. The test cannot be scheduled until authorization is confirmed.  The MMC staff will provide authorization information when available, often immediately upon sending the order.  Ultimately it is the responsibility of the guarantor to confirm coverage.
  • Upon receiving the order, Carolina Imaging will schedule the test at the first available date and time. This may take up to 5 business days.
  • An automated call, text or email will communicate the scheduled date and time to the person for whom the test is scheduled. MMC does request the communication be provided to the caregiver if appropriate, but Carolina Imaging is not always able to honor this request.
  • If the scheduled date and time are feasible, no further action is needed.
  • If the scheduled date and time are not feasible, call Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060 to reschedule.
  • If an automated message is not received after 5 days, please schedule by calling Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060.
  • If a testing site other than Carolina Imaging is preferred, please let the provider know.

 

TEST PREPARATION

  • During the 24 hours prior to the test, drink six to eight glasses of water.
  • Take medications as prescribed and eat normally unless advised differently by the provider. Medications for anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, narcolepsy and pain may need to be held prior to the test.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE TEST

  • The individual is escorted to a procedure room and given two tablets to swallow. This medication protects the thyroid gland from the radioactive tracer that is used for the test.  It takes approximately one hour for the tablets to be fully absorbed.
  • An intravenous catheter is placed in the vein and the tracer is injected. It takes approximately three hours for the tracer to circulate throughout the body and to the brain.
  • The individual will remove any jewelry in the head and neck area and hearing aids if used, be placed in a gown, moved to the imaging room, and laid flat on a table with a special head rest. Straps may be used to help keep the head still during the test.
  • A special camera will rotate around the head taking images for the provider to view. The scanner gets very close to the head but will not touch it. It is important to lie still during the test.
  • The scan takes 45 minutes to complete.

TEST RESULTS

  • Test results are generally available within 24 hours.
  • Test results are best discussed at the next scheduled follow-up appointment so they can be presented along with other information to make a diagnosis.
  • The office may call before the next scheduled appointment if the results are significant and additional action is needed.