Parkinsonism Evaluation

When patients are referred to UT Southwestern, it’s usually because there is a question or uncertainty about the diagnosis. Our neurologists are trained to diagnose and treat rare neurological conditions like Parkinsonism.

Evaluation Process

There is no single test to make a definitive diagnosis of Parkinsonism. We’ll talk with you about symptoms, medical history, family history, previous disorders, and exposure to toxins and medications that might cause Parkinsonism. You’ll also have a comprehensive physical examination so we can determine if certain combinations of features are present to help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. 

The following diagnostic tests may be ordered to determine the cause of your symptoms:

  • Blood tests are sometimes used to check for uncommon genetic, metabolic, nutritional, or endocrine diseases that can produce the appearance of Parkinsonism.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or brain scan, may be done to look for a structural disorder that may be causing the symptoms.
  • Sweat test – If multiple system atrophy (MSA) is suspected, we may order a sweat test to evaluate perspiration and assess autonomic function failure.
  • Tilt table test – This test assesses the autonomic nervous system of patients with MSA. In this procedure, blood pressure and heart rate are monitored while the patient is strapped in place on a special table that can tilt to an almost upright position. This allows the physician to record blood pressure irregularities and information about whether blood pressure adjusts to a change in physical position.
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan – For patients who might have corticobasal degeneration, a SPECT scan gives us a better look at chemical and energetic measures of the brain and how it is performing.

Once your Parkinsonism evaluation is complete, our team will talk to you about your needs and treatment options.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a Parkinsonism specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.