Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

No specific test exists to diagnose Parkinson's disease. Your doctor trained in nervous system conditions (neurologist) will diagnose Parkinson's disease based on your medical history, a review of your signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination.

Your doctor may order tests, such as blood tests, to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

Imaging tests — such as MRI, ultrasound of the brain, SPECT and PET scans — may also be used to help rule out other disorders. Imaging tests aren't particularly helpful for diagnosing Parkinson's disease.

In addition to your examination, your doctor may give you carbidopa-levodopa, a Parkinson's disease medication. You must be given a sufficient dose to show the benefit, as low doses for a day or two aren't reliable. Significant improvement with this medication will often confirm your diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Sometimes it takes time to diagnose Parkinson's disease. Doctors may recommend regular follow-up appointments with neurologists trained in movement disorders to evaluate your condition and symptoms over time and diagnose Parkinson's disease.

July 07, 2015