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Keywords:

  • brain parenchyma sonography;
  • brainstem raphe;
  • central serotonergic system;
  • overactive bladder;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • transcranial sonography

Urinary dysfunction is very common in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and manifests primarily with symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB). Affection of central serotonergic systems has been suggested to play a role in OAB. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether in PD patients with OAB symptoms a specific alteration of the brainstem raphe (BR), which contains serotonergic neurons, can be detected with transcranial sonography (TCS). Of 116 PD patients enrolled, 19 had PD-related OAB symptoms (OAB+) unlike remaining 97 patients (OAB−). Patients were examined by a sonographer blinded to the clinical data. Reduced echogenicity of BR was found in 12 (63%) OAB+ patients but only in 18 (19%) of 93 assessable OAB− patients (Mann–Whitney U-test, P < 0.001). In OAB+ patients, lower raphe echogenicity score was associated with longer duration of OAB symptoms (anova, P = 0.033). Other TCS findings such as echogenicity of substantia nigra, thalami, lenticular and caudate nuclei, and widths of third and lateral ventricles did not differ between OAB+ and OAB− patients. TCS findings suggest a pathogenetic role of BR in OAB related to PD. Alterations may reflect disturbance of its central serotonergic system.