Parkinson’s disease is not diagnosed based on a specific test. Instead, a doctor can make a diagnosis based on the presence of two of the four major symptoms, along with some lab, blood and/or imaging tests to rule out other conditions.
The first step towards reaching a conclusive diagnosis is making an appointment with your regular physician. Your doctor may then refer you to a specialist such as a neurologist or motor disorders specialist. Responding positively to the most common medication for Parkinson’s is another way to confirm a diagnosis and begin developing a treatment plan. A treatment plan is very important.
Because there is no test for Parkinson’s, it can be hard to diagnose, particularly in the early stages of the disease. An imaging scan called the dopamine transporter scan, also known as a (DAT) scan or DaTscan, was approved by the FDA in 2011. This scan helps doctors see the brain’s dopamine system. Because a loss of dopamine leads to Parkinson’s, this can help confirm a diagnosis.
Current research is also attempting to find specific biomarkers to make early diagnosis possible. The hope is that early identification for people who may develop Parkinson’s could lead to delaying the onset of symptoms.