A recent study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry indicated that parkinsonian syndromes often are misdiagnosed, and that it may take over a year to identify the true underlying cause for Parkinson's like symptoms. Even the use of rigid diagnostic criteria may not lead to an accurate initial diagnosis.
The study followed 66 patients for at least one year after an initial diagnosis of 'possible or definite parkinsonian syndrome.' After 29 months, the clinical diagnosis was changed for 33 percent of the patients. (Dementia with Lewy bodies accounted for 1/3rd of the changed diagnoses.)
Families and physiciains should be aware of the potential for inaccurate initial diagnosis of parkinsonian syndromes and of the need for continued follow-up visits for at least a year to confirm or change the diagnosis and adjust treatment plans accordingly.
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