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Magnetic resonance imaging in Parkinson's disease and parkinsonian syndromes

M B Stern, B H Braffman, B E Skolnick, H I Hurtig, R I Grossman
Neurology 1989, 39 (11): 1524-6
High field strength magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a noninvasive means of evaluating patients with parkinsonism. Using strict clinical criteria, we began a prospective study of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and parkinsonian syndromes (PS) including progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multiple system atrophy (MSA), and atypical parkinsonism (ATYP). We detected moderate to severe putaminal hypointensity more frequently in PS than in PD and controls, although putaminal hypointensity did not distinguish between MSA, PSP, or ATYP. Signal intensity in the lateral substantia nigra did not differ significantly among patients with PD, PS, or controls and was therefore not a useful MRI marker. Pars compacta width was significantly narrower in both PD and PS. Subcortical and periventricular hyperintense foci were more abundant in PD and PS than controls. Atrophy of the brainstem occurred only in patients with PS.

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