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Health / The latest developments in nuclear medicine determine the stage of Parkinson’s disease

Recent advances in nuclear medicine determine the stage of Parkinson's disease

The importance of early diagnosis is key because 28% of Parkinson’s patients go undiagnosed in Spain

According to the Spanish Society of Neurology, about 150,000 people in Spain suffer from Parkinson’s disease. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease.

Tremors, rigidity and cognitive problems are the main symptoms of this chronic, degenerative and progressive disease, the result of the degeneration of a specific type of cell located in a region deep in the brain called the basal ganglia, especially in a part of the brain stem called the substantia nigra. From the appearance of the first symptoms, which in many cases are erroneously associated with other diseases, until a definitive diagnosis is established, an average of 1-5 years can pass

As explained by Dr. Pablo Supina, Head of the Nuclear Medicine Unit at Vithas Valencia 9 de Octubre Hospital, “The importance of neurological diagnosis is key. Therefore, in case of diagnostic doubt, especially if there is a tremor, it may be atypical or essential, and in order to differentiate between Parkinson’s with/without BMD, specific brain tests may be ordered to complete the diagnosis process.”

“These tests (PET-Dopamine or DATSCAN) are non-invasive, of short duration and do not require preparation. If there is disease with nigrostriatal degeneration, they will show a change due to loss of function, even before the patient has motor symptoms. A feature of Parkinson’s disease 1”, As the professional says. “In addition,” says the specialist, “these tests can alter diagnosis and management, at least, and depending on the sequence, in a third of cases 2”.

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Parkinson’s disease causes a loss of density of proteins responsible for transporting dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential for controlling movement. Although tremor is the most common symptom of the disease, it is most common to see a specialist initially because of the slowness in performing daily tasks.

1 (Kordower JH Brainn 2013)

2 (lokkegaard A. et al. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2002; Bega D et al. Parkinson’s disease 2021)”.

About Vitas

The Vithas group consists of 19 hospitals and 22 medical centers spread over 13 districts. The 10,600 professionals comprising Vithas have made it one of the leading Spanish healthcare companies. In addition, the group integrates the Vithas Foundation, Vithas Red Diagnóstica, the PlazaSalud24 Purchasing Center, and the participation in the Juanida Assistance Network, the first hospital group in the Balearic Islands.

Vithas, which is part of the Goodgrower Group, bases its corporate strategy on certified quality of care, patient experience, research, innovation, and social and environmental commitment.