Parkinson's Disease

Frequently Asked Questions

12. How is Parkinson's disease diagnosed?

There are currently no blood, or laboratory tests to diagnose sporadic Parkinson's disease. Diagnosis is based on a person's medical history and a neurological examination, but the disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately. Early signs and symptoms of Parkinson's may sometimes be dismissed as the effects of normal aging. A doctor may need to observe the person for some time until it is clear that the symptoms are consistently present. Improvement after initiating medication is another important hallmark of Parkinson's disease.

Doctors may sometimes request brain scans or laboratory tests to rule out other diseases. However, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of people with Parkinson's usually appear normal. Recently, the FDA has approved an imaging technique called DaTscan, which detects signals related to dopamine function and may help to increase accuracy of the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Since many other diseases have similar features but require different treatments, it is very important to make an exact diagnosis as soon as possible to ensure proper treatment.

Since many other diseases have similar features but require different treatments, it is very important to make an exact diagnosis as soon as possible to ensure proper treatment.