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To scan or not to scan your Parkinson patient: that is the question!
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  • Published on:
    Oh No, Not DaT Again

    It gives more discomfort than pleasure to comment on DaT scanning again but your editorial [1] prompted me to find out that the number of DaTscans carried out in England is increasing yearly, from 4550 in 2012/3 to 8840 in 2018/9. A trip to the dentist might have been wiser, my long-expressed opinion (based on the fundamental principles that let down 18FDopa PET) being that the DaTscan is a waste of time, radiation and money [2]. In brief it is a low resolution, inadequately sensitive, inadequately reproducible test with too many false negatives and little knowledge of confounding influences. The acronym SWEDD has, mercifully, been consigned to the dustbin[3] but we don’t have the neuropathological studies or large and long-term blinded follow-up studies, in patients and healthy individuals, despite the many tests and years since its commercial introduction, that would tell the true false positive and negative rate of the test. We can’t then confidently say how strongly a normal result argues against a clinical diagnosis of PD. Neurology is not the only specialty that uses DaTscan and indication-creep (good for the shareholder, bad for the taxpayer) means that it is also being used to distinguish Lewy Body Dementia from Alzheimer’s Dementia despite limited supportive data (4). It must also be remembered that the test measures biochemistry, not pathology; the statement in the case presentation [5] “a DaTscan was normal, with no evidence of degenerative Parkinsonism” is...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.