Anomalies of asymmetry of clinical signs in parkinsonism

Authors

  • Cory Toth MD, FRCPC,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    • Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Room 165, Heritage Medical Research Building, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary AB, T2N 2T9 Canada
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  • Michelle Rajput PhD,

    1. Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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  • Ali H. Rajput MD, FRCPC

    1. Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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Abstract

Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by a minimum of two of three features: tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia. Asymmetry of these features is often considered to support a diagnosis of PD in contrast to other parkinsonian syndromes. All major manifestations of PD are often more pronounced on the side first manifesting features of PD. Significant dissociation of features on the contralateral side, along with other variants of presentation involving the contralateral side, are rarely observed. To determine the frequency and significance of unusual asymmetry in parkinsonism, we retrospectively examined 613 patients clinically diagnosed as idiopathic PD for presence of unusual asymmetries of clinical features. Three groups of patients with unusual asymmetrical clinical findings were identified. Group 1 comprised 10 patients followed for an average of 6 years presenting with rest tremor most prominent in one lower limb and contralateral upper limb. Group 2 comprised 24 patients followed for an average of 5.5 years with action tremor most prominent on the side contralateral to the side of most prominent rest tremor. Group 3 comprised 33 patients followed for an average of 10 years who had parkinsonian signs of greatest severity on one side but subsequently, over an average of 5.4 years, became gradually more prominent on the opposite side. In Group 3, 15 of 33 patients (45%) demonstrated evolution to a rigid form of parkinsonism with disappearance of rest tremor over an average of 7.1 years after presentation. A small percentage (11%) of Parkinson's patients in our clinic demonstrated anomalous asymmetrical clinical findings, which indicates that (1) the disease process may begin in different topographic sites on each side; (2) rest tremor and action tremor may have different anatomical bases; (3) the disease process may progress at different rates on different sides; and (4) tremor becomes less pronounced with progression of disease in some patients with Parkinsonism. © 2003 Movement Disorder Society

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