Dopamine transporter (DAT) imaging is a sensitive method to detect presynaptic dopamine neuronal dysfunction, which is a hallmark of neurodegenerative parkinsonism. DAT imaging can therefore assist the differentiation between conditions with and without presynaptic dopaminergic deficit. Diagnosis of Parkinson disease or tremor disorders can be achieved with high degrees of accuracy in cases with full expression of classical clinical features; however, diagnosis can be difficult, since there is a substantial clinical overlap especially in monosymptomatic tremor (dystonic tremor, essential tremor, Parkinson tremor). The use of DAT-SPECT can prove or excludes with high sensitivity nigrostriatal dysfunction in those cases and facilitates early and accurate diagnosis. Furthermore, a normal DAT-SPECT is helpful in supporting a diagnosis of drug-induced-, psychogenic- and vascular parkinsonism by excluding underlying true nigrostriatal dysfunction. This review addresses the value of DAT-SPECT and its impact on diagnostic accuracy in movement disorders presenting with tremor and/or parkinsonism.
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