Long-term course of substantia nigra hyperechogenicity in Parkinson's disease


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Correspondence to: Dr. Jörg Spiegel, Department of Neurology, Saarland University, Kirrberger Straße, D-66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany; joerg.spiegel@uks.eu


A hyperechogenicity of the (SN+) in transcranial sonography corroborates the diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (iPD). Although it is thought to represent a biomarker of the disease that is independent of disease severity and progression, differing results have been reported describing a positive correlation of the size and advancing clinical stage. In 50 parkinsonian patients, transcranial ultrasound and clinical examination was performed twice with a mean time interval of 6.4 years. SN+ did not change in size significantly between the first and second examination, whereas clinical parkinsonian symptoms—as determined by the motor part of the UPDRS—significantly worsened (P < 0.001). We found a highly significant intraindividual correlation in SN+ sizes between both examinations (P < 0.001). The size of SN+ did not correlate with the UPDRS part III at the time of first or second ultrasound examination. Progression of motor symptoms between the first and second investigation did not correlate with the size of SN+ at baseline. Furthermore, even in the subgroup of patients with an interval of ≥8 years between examinations, there was no significant change in SN+ size. SN+ represents a largely stable biomarker in iPD and does not reflect disease progression. The size of SN+ does not predict the further course of the disease. © 2012 Movement Disorder Society