SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital San Marcos announced it is adding a new, non-invasive imaging test to help diagnose Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

“We’re the only ones as of now that’s doing this particular scan between San Antonio and Austin,” said Lead Nuclear Medicine Technician Latoya Alfred.

It’s called a Dopamine Transporter Scan (DaTscan). A drug is injected into the bloodstream and is used to assess dopamine-containing neurons.

“These neurons are involved in controlling movement. The radioisotope injection circulates around the body, making its way to the brain. A nuclear medicine camera is then used to capture images of the patient’s brain. A radiologist examines those images and will determine whether Parkinson’s disease or dementia is detected, looking to see if the radioisotope injection can be seen in the brain.”

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital

Harry Hunt was the ninth person to come and get the test at the hospital. He was experiencing symptoms that concerned him and his wife.

“Twitches you know, when I sleep,” Hunt said.

His wife, Patty, convinced him to get tested for Parkinson’s Disease. “It makes us sad. But I think it’ll give us vital information that we need,” she said.

Hunt’s diagnosis is yet to be seen. But his advice to others coming in for this test is to have a support system by their side like he does with Patty.

“She’s the strongest advocate you could want to have,” Hunt said.

According to the hospital, the test goes beyond a conventional MRI. Whereas an MRI could appear normal and not confirm a diagnosis, DaTscan can confirm a diagnosis with a neurologist’s examination.

“This state-of-the art technology now allows us to offer a new innovative and non-invasive approach in determining a life-changing diagnosis for our patients,” Shayne Musick, radiology director for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital San Marcos, said.