Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a parkinsonian syndrome (PS)?
Parkinsonian syndromes develop when the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine are impaired. When the dopaminergic system is impaired, the brain may lose the ability to control movement and motor functions. Parkinsonian syndromes include Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and progressive supranuclear palsy. DaTscan cannot distinguish among these disorders.
What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD)?
The most common symptoms are tremor (shaking); slowness of movement; rigidity (stiffness); difficulty with balance; small, cramped handwriting; stiff facial expression; shuffling walk; muffled speech; and depression. Symptoms will vary from person to person.
What is essential tremor (ET)?
Essential tremor is a condition of the brain that causes a
rhythmic shaking, usually during purposeful or voluntary
movement. The condition can affect almost any part of the body,
but the trembling occurs most often in the hands while attempting
to do simple tasks such as drinking from a glass, tying shoelaces,
or writing. Although usually not a dangerous condition, ET can
be severe in some people. The condition can occur at any age but
is most common in older adults.
Why is it difficult to diagnose a PS?
Unfortunately, the symptoms of PS are very similar to symptoms of other disorders, like ET. Additionally, there is no FDA-approved blood test or imaging procedure that can confirm the presence of these disorders.
Is DaTscan safe?
As with all radiopharmaceuticals, there are side effects related to DaTscan. Sensitivity reactions (such as rash or itching) have been reported after administration of DaTscan. In clinical trials, the most common side effects were headache, nausea, dry mouth, or dizziness. These occurred in less than 1% of patients studied. Please talk with your doctor about any other questions or concerns you may have.
Will a single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan with DaTscan diagnose my condition?
SPECT imaging with DaTscan — along with other diagnostic tests and clinical assessments — may help your doctor determine if your symptoms are due to ET or PS.
What if I am taking one of the medications listed as a drug that may interfere with a DaTscan test?
Do not stop taking any medication unless instructed to do so by
your doctor. Prior to the test, tell your doctor and the Nuclear
Medicine facility about ALL medications that you are taking (prescriptions, over-the-counter supplements, and recreational drugs). Certain medications may interfere with DaTscan, so you may need
to stop taking them prior to the test at the direct instruction and
supervision of your doctor. Let your doctor know immediately
if you are taking a medication listed as a drug that may interfere
with imaging with DaTscan.
Will my insurance cover DaTscan?
All insurance plans are different and vary from carrier to carrier. DaTscan is covered by both Medicare and Medicaid. Before the test, please discuss any questions about insurance with your doctor or the facility where you will be having the imaging procedure.
What does it mean if I have an abnormal scan?
Your doctor will discuss the DaTscan scan with you in the context of your other symptoms and his/her clinical assessment. An abnormal scan shows that you may have a decreased number of presynaptic dopamine transporters (DaTs) to which DaTscan attaches. This additional information may be useful in the assessment of your symptoms and eventual diagnosis.
Where can I go for imaging with DaTscan?
Only your doctor can order imaging with DaTscan. Once it is ordered, you will be referred to the Nuclear Medicine department of a hospital or outpatient facility by your doctor.

This information does not replace having a conversation with your doctor about your condition or DaTscan imaging. If you have any questions, please talk with your doctor. For additional information, please see the Full Prescribing Information for DaTscan.

What is Datscan (Ioflupane I 123 Injection)?

DaTscan is a radioactive drug that is injected into your bloodstream to highlight areas of your brain so that images can be taken with a special camera (called a single-photon emission computed tomography [SPECT] camera). If you are an adult with a movement difficulty, your doctor may decide to order this imaging test, along with other medical tests, to help decide if your movement difficulties are due to a parkinsonian syndrome or a similar condition such as essential tremor.

Types of parkinsonian syndromes are Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and progressive supranuclear palsy. DaTscan cannot tell the difference between these parkinsonian syndromes.

DaTscan is available only by prescription and must be ordered by your doctor.

Important Risk and Safety Information About DaTscan

You should not be given DaTscan if:
  • You have ever had a reaction to iodine or are sensitive to any of the components of DaTscan. Talk with your doctor; he or she can help you understand what the drug ingredients are
What is the most important information you should know about DaTscan?
  • Serious allergic and injection-site reactions could occur following a DaTscan injection. If you have any symptoms of a serious allergic nature, including low blood pressure; trouble breathing; throat tightness; swelling of your face, lips, or tongue; or rash and itching, inform your doctor or go to your nearest emergency room right away
  • To help decrease the amount of thyroid accumulation of iodine: Your doctor will give you a medication at least one hour before giving you DaTscan. The purpose of this medication is to minimize the amount of radioactive iodine going into your thyroid gland
  • Pregnancy: Clinical studies have not been conducted with DaTscan on pregnant women. Any radioactive drug, including DaTscan, may cause harm to the fetus. If you are pregnant, your doctor will decide if a DaTscan test is appropriate
  • If your are a nursing mother, your doctor will decide whether you should interrupt nursing and pump and discard breast milk for six days after DaTscan administration to reduce the risks to your nursing infant
  • If you have kidney and/or liver problems: The effects of kidney and /or liver damage from the use of DaTscan are not certain. DaTscan is removed by the kidney, and patients with severe kidney problems may have increased radiation exposure that could change DaTscan images
  • Children: DaTscan should not be given to children
The most common side effects of DaTscan:
  • In clinical studies performed, the most common side effects included headache, nausea and upset stomach, a sensation of motion, dry mouth, or dizziness in less than 1% of patients (1 in 100 patients)
What you should know about taking DaTscan with other medications:
    Some drugs may interfere with DaTscan. Be sure to tell your doctor what drugs you are taking so that he or she can decide whether you should stop any of them for a period of time before using DaTscan
Questions about the procedure:
    Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the SPECT imaging procedure or the use of DaTscan
Your doctor should advise you to:
    Increase your level of hydration (fluids) prior to and after receiving DaTscan, and to empty your bladder frequently for the first 48 hours following DaTscan administration

The safety information included here is not comprehensive. If you have any questions, please be sure to discuss them with your doctor.

For more information about DaTscan, call GE Healthcare at 800 654 0118.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 800 FDA 1088.

For more information about DaTscan, call GE Healthcare at 1-800-654-0118.

Please see the Full Prescribing Information for DaTscan at