J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 67:815-818 doi:10.1136/jnnp.67.6.815
  • Short report

Parkinson's disease: a novel MRI method for determining structural changes in the substantia nigra

  1. Michael Hutchinson,
  2. Ulrich Raff
  1. Department of Neurology, NYU School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA
  1. Dr Michael Hutchinson email michael.hutchinson{at}
  • Received 11 March 1999
  • Revised 22 July 1999
  • Accepted 23 July 1999


OBJECTIVES To use MRI in a novel way to image and quantify the changes occurring in the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease.

METHODS Six patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease were compared with six age matched control subjects. The subjects were imaged using a combination of pulse sequences hypothesised to be sensitive to cell loss.

RESULTS The images showed patterns of change in patients with Parkinson's disease. Highly significant differences between the patients and control population were found (p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS This methodology suggests the possibility of detecting presymptomatic disease in those judged to be at risk, and also in confirming the diagnosis in patients with early disease. Furthermore, the technique seems to hold promise as a means for staging the disease, and possibly differentiating other forms of parkinsonism.


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