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Apparent diffusion coefficient measurements of the middle cerebellar peduncle differentiate the Parkinson variant of MSA from Parkinson's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Brain 2006 October
Clinical differentiation of parkinsonian syndromes such as the Parkinson variant of multiple system atrophy (MSA-P) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) from Parkinson's disease is difficult in the early stage of the disease. In order to identify objective markers for differential diagnosis, we studied these three groups of patients with diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI). Sixteen MSA-P patients, 16 with PSP, 16 with Parkinson's disease and 15 healthy volunteers were studied. Regional apparent diffusion coefficients (rADC) were determined in different brain regions including basal ganglia, thalamus, white matter, pons and middle cerebellar peduncles (MCPs). rADC calculated in the MCP completely differentiated MSA-P patients (median: 0.93 x 10(-3) mm2/s) from PSP patients (median: 0.82 x 10(-3) mm2/s, P < 0.001), Parkinson's disease patients (median: 0.79 x 10(-3) mm2/s, P < 0.001) and healthy volunteers (median: 0.81 x 10(-3) mm2/s, P < 0.001). Other regions considered showed an overlapping among groups. DWI discriminates MSA-P from PSP and Parkinson's disease and healthy volunteers on the basis of MCP rADC values. These in vivo results confirm the pathological findings that the majority of MSA-P patients have moderate or severe degenerative changes not only in the nigrostriatal but also in the olivopontocerebellar systems. Our findings indicate that, in order to substantially contribute to the in vivo differential diagnosis of MSA-P, PSP and Parkinson's disease, rADC measurements should not be limited to the basal ganglia but should also include the MCP.

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