No definitive tests for Parkinson’s disease (PD) yet exist that dependably confirm the disorder. Diagnosing Parkinson’s relies on a medical history and neurological examination. Because symptoms often develop slowly, the doctor may need to monitor a person over a long period until the signs of Parkinson’s appear consistently.
In screening for Parkinson’s disease, doctors may administer trial doses of levodopa, a medication known to help relieve symptoms. A positive response supports the diagnosis of Parkinson’s. CT (computed tomography) scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) are normal in patients with PD, but help rule out other diseases.
An accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be difficult as other conditions produce the same symptoms as PD. Some early signs also appear as a normal effect of aging. Because other diseases have similar characteristics, but need different treatments, an accurate diagnosis is critical to early intervention with the correct therapy.