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Sleep. 1997 Aug;20(8):630-1.

MRI findings in narcolepsy.

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Department of Neurology, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0316, USA.


The neuropathology of narcolepsy is unknown. Recently, Plazzi et al. (1) reported magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in the pontine tegmentum of three patients with long-standing idiopathic narcolepsy. Considering the localization of the neuroradiological findings in the pontine reticular formation, where rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is generated, the authors suggested a causal relationship between narcolepsy and MRI abnormalities. Frey and Heiserman, however, found pontine MRI abnormalities in only two of 12 patients with narcolepsy both of whom had long-standing hypertension (2). Pullicino et al. noted similar pontine MRI abnormalities in patients with subcortical arteriosclerotic encephalopathy-like ischemic rarefaction of the pons (3). Thus, the changes noted by Plazzi et al. may have been caused by small-vessel disease rather than narcolepsy. To assess whether altered pontine MRI signals are a regular feature of idiopathic narcolepsy, we selected randomly from our database seven patients with narcolepsy with cataplexy. Of these seven, three agreed to have brain MRIs; their cases are described below. None had pontine MRI abnormalities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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