News | June 20, 2014

MRI Brain Scans Detect People With Early Parkinson's

Oxford University Research Brain MRI Resting-state fMRI Parkinson's

June 20, 2014 — Oxford University researchers funded by Parkinson's UK have developed a simple and quick magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that offers promise for early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

The team demonstrated that its new MRI approach can detect people who have early-stage Parkinson's disease with 85 percent accuracy, according to research published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“At the moment we have no way to predict who is at risk of Parkinson's disease in the vast majority of cases,” says Dr. Clare Mackay of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, one of the joint lead researchers. “We are excited that this MRI technique might prove to be a good marker for the earliest signs of Parkinson's. The results are very promising.”

Claire Bale, research communications manager at Parkinson's UK, explains: “This new research takes us one step closer to diagnosing Parkinson's at a much earlier stage — one of the biggest challenges facing research into the condition. By using a new, simple scanning technique the team at Oxford University have been able to study levels of activity in the brain, which may suggest that Parkinson's is present. One person every hour is diagnosed with Parkinson's in the UK, and we hope that the researchers are able to continue to refine their test so that it can one day be part of clinical practice.'

The researchers from the Oxford Parkinson's Disease Centre also received support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Clinical Research Network: Dementias and neurodegeneration (DeNDRoN).

Parkinson's disease is characterized by tremor, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles. It's thought to affect around 1 in 500 people, meaning there are an estimated 127,000 people in the United Kingdom with the condition. There is currently no cure for the disease, although there are treatments that can reduce symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.

Parkinson's disease is caused by the progressive loss of a particular set of nerve cells in the brain, but this damage to nerve cells will have been going on for a long time before symptoms become apparent.

If treatments are to be developed that can slow or halt the progression of the disease before it affects people significantly, the researchers say, we need methods to be able to identify people at risk before symptoms take hold.

Conventional MRI cannot detect early signs of Parkinson's, so the Oxford researchers used an MRI technique, called resting-state fMRI, in which people are simply required to stay still in the scanner. They used the MRI data to look at the 'connectivity,' or strength of brain networks, in the basal ganglia — part of the brain known to be involved in Parkinson's disease.

The team compared 19 people with early-stage Parkinson's disease while not on medication to 19 healthy people, matched for age and gender. They found that the Parkinson's patients had much lower connectivity in the basal ganglia.

The researchers were able to define a cut-off or threshold level of connectivity. Falling below this level was able to predict who had Parkinson's disease with 100 percent sensitivity (it picked up everyone with Parkinson's) and 89.5 percent specificity (it picked up few people without Parkinson's — there were few false positives).

Mackay explains: “Our MRI approach showed a very strong difference in connectivity between those who had Parkinson's disease and those that did not. So much so, that we wondered if it was too good to be true and carried out a validation test in a second group of patients. We got a similar result the second time.”

The scientists applied their MRI test to a second group of 13 early-stage Parkinson's patients as a validation of the approach. They correctly identified 11 out of the 13 patients (85 percent accuracy).

“We think that our MRI test will be relevant for diagnosis of Parkinson's,” says joint lead researcher Dr. Michele Hu of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. “We tested it in people with early-stage Parkinson's. But because it is so sensitive in these patients, we hope it will be able to predict who is at risk of disease before any symptoms have developed. However, this is something that we still have to show in further research.”

To see if this is the case, the Oxford University researchers are now carrying out further studies of their MRI technique with people who are at increased risk of Parkinson's.

For further information: www.ox.ac.uk

Related Content

Philips Introduces Technology Maximizer Program for Imaging Equipment Upgrades
Technology | Imaging | January 17, 2018
January 17, 2018 — Philips recently announced the launch of Technology Maximizer, a cross-modality program designed t
Russian Team Developing New Technology to Significantly Reduce MRI Research Costs
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | January 16, 2018
January 16, 2018 — Researchers from the NUST MISIS Engineering Center for Industrial Technologies in Russia have deve
Transpara Deep Learning Software Matches Experienced Radiologists in Mammogram Reading
News | Computer-Aided Detection Software | January 12, 2018
Deep learning and artificial intelligence improves the efficiency and accuracy of reading mammograms, according to...
Smartphone Addiction Creates Imbalance in Brain
News | Mobile Devices | January 11, 2018
Researchers have found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet,...
Fat Distribution in Women and Men Provides Clues to Heart Attack Risk
News | Women's Health | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 – It’s not the amount of fat in your body but where it is stored that may increase your risk for hea
Minimally Invasive Treatment Provides Relief from Back Pain

Lumbar spine MRI showing disc herniation and nerve root at baseline and one month after treatment

News | Interventional Radiology | January 11, 2018
The majority of patients were pain free after receiving a new image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment for low back...
Emergency Radiologists See Inner Toll of Opioid Use Disorders

Rates of Imaging Positivity for IV-SUDs Complications. Image courtesy of Efren J. Flores, M.D.

News | Clinical Study | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 – Emergency radiologists are seeing a high prevalence of patients with complications related to opio
CT Shows Enlarged Aortas in Former Pro Football Players

3-D rendering from a cardiac CT dataset demonstrating mild dilation of the ascending aorta.

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | January 11, 2018
Former National Football League (NFL) players are more likely to have enlarged aortas, a condition that may put them at...
Study Finds No Evidence that Gadolinium Causes Neurologic Harm

MR images through, A, C, E, basal ganglia and, B, D, F, posterior fossa at level of dentate nucleus. Images are shown for, A, B, control group patient 4, and the, C, D, first and, E, F, last examinations performed in contrast group patient 13. Regions of interest used in quantification of signal intensity are shown as dashed lines for globus pallidus (green), thalamus (blue), dentate nucleus (yellow), and pons (red).

News | Contrast Media | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 — There is no evidence that accumulation in the brain of the element gadolinium speeds cognitive dec

Size comparison between 3-D printed prosthesis implant and a penny.

News | 3-D Printing | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 — Researchers using...
Overlay Init