• brain parenchyma sonography;
  • transcranial sonography;
  • substantia nigra


To investigate whether transcranial brain sonography (TCS) discriminates different courses of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), 101 patients with clinically definite PD were studied. In four patients, TCS was not possible due to insufficient acoustic temporal bone windows. Substantia nigra (SN) hyperechogenicity was found in 96% of assessable patients. Larger SN echogenic size correlated with younger age at PD onset (Spearman correlation, r = −0.383; P < 0.001), but not with age, PD duration, or severity. Marked bilateral SN hyperechogenicity indicated early-onset rather than late-onset PD, and akinetic–rigid (AR) or mixed-type (MX) PD rather than tremor-dominant PD. SN echogenic sizes were larger contralateral to the clinically more affected side in AR PD and MX PD patients. Reduced echogenicity of brainstem raphe was associated with depression (RR = 1.61; 95% CI = 1.05–2.46; P = 0.044) but not with other clinical features. Caudate nucleus hyperechogenicity was, independently from PD duration, related to drug-induced psychosis (RR = 2.40; CI = 1.36–4.22; P = 0.001), but not to motor fluctuations. Lenticular nucleus hyperechogenicity indicated AR PD rather than tremor-dominant PD (RR = 1.44; CI = 1.11–1.86; P = 0.040). Frontal horn dilatation > 15.4 mm (mean of bilateral measurements) indicated increased risk of dementia (RR = 4.11; CI = 1.51–11.2; P = 0.001). We conclude that TCS displays characteristic changes of deep brain structures in different clinical manifestations of PD. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society