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Brain and spinal cord MRI in motor neuron disease.
  1. J W Thorpe,
  2. I F Moseley,
  3. C H Hawkes,
  4. D G MacManus,
  5. W I McDonald,
  6. D H Miller
  1. NMR Research Unit, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.


    Motor neuron disease causes widespread degeneration of motor neurons within both the brain and spinal cord. Brain and spinal cord MRI were performed in 11 patients with motor neuron disease, and in 17 controls. Symmetric areas of high signal within the corticospinal tracts were found in nine patients on T2 weighted spin echo (SE) or fast spin echo (FSE) images of the brain and in eight on T2 or T2* weighed images of the spinal cord. High signal within the posterior limbs of the internal capsules was also found in four controls; this finding in isolation is therefore not pathological. No controls had abnormalities within the spinal cord. Low signal within the motor cortex was found in 10 patients, but was also seen in six controls. Thus MRI often displays characteristic abnormalities within the corticospinal tracts in patients with motor neuron disease, and should be considered in the investigation of suspected cases.

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