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Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2018 Aug;53:37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2018.04.037. Epub 2018 May 5.

DAT-SPECT imaging in cases of drug-induced parkinsonism in a specialty movement disorders practice.

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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, United States.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventative Medicine, United States.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, United States. Electronic address:



Compare clinical characteristics and outcomes in cases where DAT-SPECT imaging is used to distinguish Parkinson's disease from Drug-Induced Parkinsonsim.


Clinical uncertainty in diagnosing Parkinson's disease is common when patients are on dopamine-blocking medications. DAT-SPECT imaging can improve diagnostic certainty but little data are available on clinical characteristics and outcomes associated with normal and abnormal scan results.


Retrospective chart review of patients seen at a movement disorders center between 2011 and 2017 where DAT-SPECT was ordered to distinguish Parkinson's disease from Drug-induced Parkinsonism. Descriptive statistics were calculated for variables of interest and compared by scan result. Chi-squared analyses was carried out for categorical variables and students' t-tests for continuous values.


51 patients met inclusion criteria with 36 normal scans and 15 abnormal scans. Those with greater than 2 cardinal manifestations (tremor, rigidity, akinesia, postural instability) were more likely to have an abnormal scan (63.89% vs 93.33%, p = 0.04). No other clinical characteristics assessed were associated with scan results. Atypical antipsychotics (aripiprazole 39.21%, olanzapine 31.37%) and mood stabilizers (valproic acid 33.33%, lithium 17.65%) were most commonly associated with suspected Drug-induced Parkinsonism cases. A post-scan change in management occurred in 41.18% of patients. 55.56% of patients with normal scans responded to changes in the offending medication, with 16.66% taking over 3 months to show improvement.


Many DAT-SPECT scans at our institution are ordered to distinguish Parkinson's disease from Drug-induced Parkinsonism because clinical characteristics alone are unreliable. DAT-SPECT results lead to changes in management and the outcomes of these changes are consistent with scan results.


DAT-SPECT; Drug-induced parkinsonism; Parkinson's disease

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