Vol 49, No 6 (2015)

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The role of neuroimaging in the diagnosis of the atypical parkinsonian syndromes in clinical practice

Magda Dąbrowska1, Michał Schinwelski12, Emilia J. Sitek12, Anna Muraszko-Klaudel3, Bogna Brockhuis4, Zygmunt Jamrozik5, Jarosław Sławek12
DOI: 10.1016/j.pjnns.2015.10.002
Neurol Neurochir Pol 2015;49(6):421-431.


Atypical parkinsonian disorders (APD) are a heterogenous group of neurodegenerative diseases such as: progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multiple system atrophy (MSA), cortico-basal degeneration (CBD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). In all of them core symptoms of parkinsonian syndrome are accompanied by many additional clinical features not typical for idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) like rapid progression, gaze palsy, apraxia, ataxia, early cognitive decline, dysautonomia and usually poor response to levodopa therapy. In the absence of reliably validated biomarkers the diagnosis is still challenging and mainly based on clinical criteria. However, robust data emerging from routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as from many advanced MRI techniques such as: diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), voxel-based morphometry (VBM), susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) may help in differential diagnosis. The main aim of this review is to summarize briefly the most important and acknowledged radiological findings of conventional MRI due to its availability in standard clinical settings. Nevertheless, we present shortly other methods of structural (like TCS – transcranial sonography) and functional imaging (like SPECT – single photon emission computed tomography or PET – positron emission tomography) as well as some selected advanced MRI techniques and their potential future applications in supportive role in distinguishing APD.

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Neurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska