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Neurology. 1999 Sep 22;53(5):1020-5.

Cardiac uptake of [123I]MIBG separates Parkinson's disease from multiple system atrophy.

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  • 1Neurologische, Universit├Ątsklinik Freiburg, Germany.



To improve the differential diagnosis between patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA) and idiopathic PD (IPD) with autonomic failure.


Some patients diagnosed with IPD are discovered to have alternative diseases such as MSA, despite the application of stringent diagnostic criteria. This differentiation is particularly difficult if patients with IPD also show symptoms of autonomic failure. In IPD, autonomic failure is caused by damage of the postganglionic part of the autonomic nervous system, whereas in MSA, degeneration of preganglionic and central autonomic neurons is revealed histopathologically.


Scintigraphy with [123I]metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) enables the quantification of postganglionic sympathetic cardiac innervation. Fifteen patients with IPD and 5 patients with MSA underwent standard autonomic function tests and scintigraphy with MIBG.


In all patients, cardiovascular testing showed evidence of autonomic failure of varying severity. In all patients with IPD, the heart-mediastinum (H/M) ratio of MIBG uptake was pathologically impaired, independent of duration and severity of autonomic and parkinsonian symptoms. All patients with MSA had a regular H/M ratio. Each patient could be assigned to the correct diagnostic group based on the results of the MIBG scintigraphy, even if the duration of the disease was only 2 years or less.


This population assessment of the heart-mediastinum ratio of [123I]metaiodobenzylguanidine uptake showed a high sensitivity for the detection of autonomic involvement in patients with idiopathic IPD and also a high specificity for the discrimination between idiopathic PD and MSA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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