Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be difficult to diagnose since there’s no specific test for it. We base a Parkinson’s diagnosis on medical history and a thorough neurological exam. Since no lab tests diagnose Parkinson’s, we may order certain tests to see if you have another condition with symptoms that imitate Parkinson’s disease.

For example, Datscan is an imaging test that reveals the activity of the brain’s dopamine pathways. In patients with Parkinson’s disease, there is a marked decrease in uptake of the tracer. Datscan is not needed in evaluation of most patients with suspected PD, but it is very helpful in those who have unusual symptoms.

What to Expect

Your initial visit includes a physical examination and an interview with a member of our movement disorders team. You may be asked to perform tasks to assess the agility of your arms and legs, as well as to evaluate your muscle tone, gait, and balance.

In addition to the examination, we may give you a medication commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Significant improvement with the medication – such as better management of walking, movement, and tremors – often confirms a diagnosis of PD.

After the interview and examination, we’ll discuss our diagnosis and work with you to create a treatment plan. Depending on your symptoms, you may be referred to other specialists at UT Southwestern. We’ll maintain an ongoing relationship with you, including follow-up appointments, as your condition progresses. During your appointments, you may be seen by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant who has received intensive training from a movement disorders physician.

Request an Appointment

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