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Your doctor has requested a DaTscan study. This booklet will answer some of the questions you may have. 

What is a DaTscan study? 

If you experience movement difficulties, a DaTscan could help your doctor decide if they are due to a Parkinsonian syndrome or something else with similar symptoms, such as an Essential tremor. A DaTscan study is a simple and painless way of taking pictures of your brain using a radioactive tracer, so as to be able to make the above differentiation.  

What is involved? 

When you arrive in the Nuclear Medicine Department, a technologist will explain the entire procedure to you and then give you the opportunity to ask any questions. You will receive a medication to protect your thyroid from the iodine content in the radioactive tracer. You will wait an hour before receiving the radioactive tracer to allow this medication to take effect.  

The technologist will then set up a small intravenous needle in your arm and inject the radioactive tracer that will allow us to take images of your brain. There are no known side effects from this injection. Because it takes time for the radioactive tracer to be distributed in the brain, you will need to wait about 3-4 hours after this injection for the imaging part to begin. During this time, you can have your meals and leave the department and return later if you wish. 

For the scan, you will be asked to lie on an imaging table, and the technologist will position you on a headrest. A strip of tape, or some other flexible restraint, will be placed across your forehead and chin to prevent your head from moving during the test. Your scan will take approximately 30 minutes, during which you will be asked to remain very still. 

The test takes most of the day to complete. 

Do I need to prepare for the scan? 

  • Bring your Health card. 
  • The following medications should be withheld before your appointment, after consulting with your family physician. 
Medication or drug that may interfere ioflupane binding and should be withheld if possible Approximate duration (5 half-lives) 
Ephedrine, ketamine, isoflurane 1 day 
Cocaine, methylphenidate 2 days 
Methamphetamine, mazindol, modafinil 3 days 
Benztropine, fentanyl 5 days 
Dexamphetamine 7 days 
Bupropion 8 days 
Phentermine, phencyclidine 14 days 
  • Please leave all valuables at home. 
  • Please notify our booking office at the time of scheduling your appointment if you have any concerns regarding claustrophobia, lying still, require a mechanical lift for transfer to the imaging bed, have a language barrier or any other special needs, so that appropriate arrangements can be made ahead to provide you with the best possible care. 

Will it hurt? 

Only the pinprick of the injection needle may hurt a bit. You may have had a blood test in the past. This is much the same. 

Is the radiation dangerous? 

The injection contains a small amount of radioactive tracer which emits gamma rays (these are similar to X-rays). The radiation dose is very low and will disappear by itself after six days. The results of your scan will give your doctor useful information about your condition and will help them plan your treatment. The benefits of having the scan far outweigh any potential risk from the small radiation dose.  

Do I need to do anything after the scan? 

No special precautions are needed after the scan. If you are travelling across any borders in the seven days after your scan, please ask us for further advice. Border crossings and airports have very sensitive radiation detectors which may pick up tiny amounts of radioactivity remaining after your scan. We will give you a letter that you can show to customs officials at border crossings or airports. 

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the injection? 

Please tell us if you are: 

  • Hypersensitive to iodine 
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding 

What about breastfeeding? 

Breastfeeding must be interruption of 3 days after the exam, during which time milk should be pumped and discarded. Prepare for your exam accordingly. 

How will I get the results of my scan? 

A specially trained doctor will examine the pictures. This is normally done soon after the end of the scan. A report is then sent to the doctor who asked us to do the scan. Your doctor will normally receive the report within one week. You will also have access to the report on MyChart as soon as it is released. 

If you have questions about the scan results or report, please contact your doctor directly. They are best able to interpret the report for you. 

Will this test cost me money? 

Yes. This test is not covered by OHIP and you are responsible for the full cost of this exam.  

What should I do if I cannot make my appointment? 

If you cannot make you appointment, it is important that you notify the department at 613-761-4831 as soon as possible. Failure to make your appointment results in wasting of expensive materials that are ordered especially for your appointment and also reduces availability to other patients. Missed appointments may also result in delays of your treatments. 

Directions and Parking 

Civic Campus  1053 Carling Avenue – 1st Floor Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From within the Civic Campus, take the “C” elevators to the 1st Floor and follow the signs to Nuclear Medicine. Patients may also ask for directions at the patient information desk. General Campus  501 Smyth Road – Main level Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From the main entrance, follow the signs on the main level (located at the public elevators). Patients may also ask for directions at the patient Information desk. 
Park in either parking lot off Carling Avenue (P7) or in the multistory parking garage (P1).  Park in the parking garage which is located beside the main entrance just off Smyth Road.  

Parking instructions 

  • All parking lots are automated  
  • Take the parking ticket with you inside.  
  • When you have completed your appointment, you can pay by cash or credit card at one of our pay stations, or you can pay by credit card with express exit at the parking lot exit gates (the grace period after payment to leave facility is 20 minutes). 
  • Payment methods: 
    • Pay stations: Cash or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). 
  • Maximum parking fee is $13.00 

Visit The Ottawa Hospital’s website for additional directions and parking instructions and maps.

Last updated on: May 17th, 2022