Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative, and tragically incurable disease. The symptoms involve tremors, rigidity, and instability among others. A Parkinson’s disease MRI can help to diagnose the disease, assess brain damage, and distinguish between traditional Parkinson’s disease and atypical presentation of the disease. Here’s what you need to know.

What Can You Detect with a Parkinson’s MRI?

Generally, you can receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis in a clinical setting, but an MRI can help to assess various aspects of the disease and its progress. In particular, a Parkinson’s MRI can do the following for patients who have or are suspected to have Parkinson’s disease:

  • Evaluate tissue loss and how the brain is atrophying
  • Check for changes to the basal ganglia region of the brain (basal ganglia are associated with numerous functions including control of voluntary motor movements, cognition, and procedural learning)
  • Find out if there are abnormal iron deposits in the basal ganglia or brainstem
  • Look at changes to white matter
  • Examine the diffusion of restricted tissues in acute infarction and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Help to diagnose atypical parkinsonism
  • Exclude treatable causes of parkinsonism such as normal pressure hydrocephalus

Differences Between Parkinson’s Disease and Atypical Parkinsonism

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and atypical parkinsonism overlap, and in a clinical setting, it can be hard to tell if a patient has one or the other. Atypical parkinsonism is diseases that present some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease but do not respond well to drug treatment. With an MRI, your doctor can help to make the diagnosis more accurate, which is essential for quality treatment. Additionally, an MRI can also help your medical team to determine if you have a certain type of atypical parkinsonism. This can help to create a prognosis and guide your treatment options.

Parkinson’s MRI Versus CT

In most cases, a Parkinson’s MRI is a more effective option than a CT scan. MRIs have better resolution, and they are more efficient at creating images that can help to showcase structural brain pathology. However, if you have a pacemaker or another significant metal implant, your healthcare team may recommend a CT instead.

Preparing for a Parkinson’s MRI

A Parkinson’s MRI is completely painless, but you do have to lie still while being scanned. Some patients feel claustrophobic in this situation. If you’re worried about that, talk with your doctor about the possibility of having an anti-anxiety medication before the procedure.

On the day of the appointment, follow any instructions provided to you by your doctor. Remove metal jewelry and don’t wear make-up as that can also have metal in it. If you are in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s or if you are taking a sedative, you should arrange transportation to and from the appointment.

Where to Get a Parkinson’s MRI

Your two main choices if you’re thinking about a Parkinson’s MRI are a hospital and a free-standing imaging center. An imaging center offers you a comfortable environment with the highest quality equipment and technicians who are extremely experienced and focus exclusively on imaging. Imaging centers are also more affordable than hospitals.

Do you need a Parkinson’s MRI? Are you a doctor who wants to schedule a Parkinson’s MRI for a patient? Then, contact us today. At American Health Imaging, we focus on imaging, and we would love to help you.