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Keywords:

  • atypical parkinsonian syndromes;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • neuroimaging

Abstract

At 1.5 T, T2*-weighted gradient echo (GE) sequences are more sensitive in revealing mineral deposition in the basal ganglia than standard T2 weighted sequences. T2*-weighted GE sequences, however, may detect putaminal hypointensities either in patients affected by parkinsonian syndromes or in healthy subjects. The aim of this study was to identify the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T2*-weighted sequence which more specifically detected putaminal hypointensities differentiating atypical parkinsonian syndromes from Parkinson's disease (PD) and control subjects. In a sample of 38 healthy subjects, we performed three T2*-weighted GE sequences at increasing time echo (TE; TE = 15 millisecond, TE = 25 millisecond, and echoplanar at TE = 40 millisecond; T2* sequences study). The sequence not showing any putaminal abnormality in the healthy subjects was then used to assess putaminal signal intensity in 189 patients with PD, 20 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), 41 patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and in 150 age and sex-matched control subjects. In the T2* sequences study, the T2*-weighted TE = 15 (T2*/15) did not show any putaminal abnormalities in the healthy subjects. This sequence detected putaminal hypointensities in a significantly higher proportion of patients with MSA (35%, P < 0.05) and PSP (24.4%, P < 0.05) than in patients with PD (5.3%), but in none of the controls. The sensitivity of putaminal hypointensity in T2*/15 sequence was 25.4% for PD, 43.9% for PSP, and 55% for MSA versus controls whereas the specificity was 93.2% for all groups. Despite the suboptimal sensitivity, the high specificity of the T2*/15 sequence performed on routine MRI suggests its usefulness in clinical practice for identifying putaminal hypointensities associated with parkinsonian disorders. © 2010 Movement Disorder Society