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Parkinson's Disease - Exams and Tests

A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is based on your medical history and a thorough neurological exam.

Your doctor also may check your sense of smell.

Recommended Related to Parkinson's

Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Usually, the outward symptoms of Parkinson's are distinctive enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis in the office.  There is no blood test or brain scan that confirms the diagnosis. But if you don't respond to the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, it’s possible you may have another type of movement disorder that causes the same type of symptoms.  Doing additional tests can help your doctor determine if some other problem is causing your parkinsonian symptoms.

Read the Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

In some cases, your doctor will have you try a medicine for Parkinson's disease. If that medicine helps your symptoms, it may help the doctor find out if you have the disease.

Tests

There are no lab tests that can diagnose Parkinson's.

But if your doctor isn't sure you have Parkinson's, he or she may do certain tests to see if you have another condition with similar symptoms.

For instance, blood tests may be done to check for abnormal thyroid hormone levels or liver damage. An imaging test (such as a CT scan or an MRI) may be used to check for signs of a stroke or brain tumor.

Another type of imaging test, called PET, sometimes may detect low levels of dopamine in the brain, a key feature of Parkinson's. But PET scanning isn't commonly used to evaluate Parkinson's because it's very expensive, not available in many hospitals, and only used experimentally.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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