What is it?

A DAT scan visualises the dopaminergenic system. The dopaminergenic system ensures that the signals from the brain reach the muscles. If the communication between the brain and the muscles is lacking, then the muscles lose control and start moving involuntarily and slowly or do not react at all.

Test procedure

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Are you pregnant or do you think you may be pregnant? Or are you breastfeeding? Please tell the physician before the injection. The test will not be performed if you are pregnant. If you are not sure whether you are pregnant or not, the test will be postponed until you are certain.

If you are breastfeeding, make sure to discuss this with the physician before the test. You will receive additional instructions about how to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to your child.

Preparation for the test

You do not need to be fasting for this test. There is no special preparation needed. Talk with your physician about whether you may take your regular medication.

A specific product will be ordered for you before the test. For this reason, it is very important that you let the department know (at least five days beforehand) if you are not able to come to your appointment.

Test procedure

You will need to check in with the Nuclear Medicine Department every three to six hours. In the morning, a small quantity of radioacive material will be administered intravenously. Afterwards, you will be told to return for imaging after a certain period of time has passed. The images take 35 minutes. You will lie flat with your head in a headrest during the test. It is very important that you not move your head during the entire test.

Safety and radiation


There are essentially no side effects: the injected product causes no abnormal sensations and only in very rare cases causes (very mild) allergic reactions. The injected radioactive material does constitute a dose of radiation, but it is very small (about as much as for a regular CT scan).

The quantity of radiation that you are exposed to during the test is not higher or lower depending on the number of images taken.

The radioactive material will have disappeared almost completely from your body 12 hours after the test.

It is recommended that children younger than the age of 6 do not sit on your lap for more than half an hour during the first six hours after the test. Playing, feeding, changing sheets and nappies and other daily activities are no problem.

Also do your best to avoid long (longer than one hour) of close contact (less than one metre) with pregnant women during the first six hours.


We prepare a report of the test. That report and the images are digitally available to the physician who requested the test.

Centres and specialist areas

Nuclear Medicine

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Van Den Bossche Bieke