Detection of presymptomatic Parkinson's disease: combining smell tests, transcranial sonography, and SPECT

Mov Disord. 2004 Oct;19(10):1196-202. doi: 10.1002/mds.20141.


Olfactory loss is among the early signs of Parkinson's disease (PD). We investigated whether "idiopathic" olfactory dysfunction might relate to signs of nigral degeneration. Olfactory tests were combined with transcranial sonography of the substantia nigra and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging. Thirty patients diagnosed with idiopathic olfactory loss participated. Eleven of these patients exhibited an increased echogenicity of the SN in the transcranial sonography. In 10 of these 11 patients, SPECT scans with (123)I-FP-CIT were performed. Median uptake ratios in the basal ganglia were pathological in 5 patients, 2 patients exhibited borderline findings, and 3 patients had normal results. Considering patients with idiopathic olfactory dysfunction, noninvasive transcranial sonography seems to be helpful in identifying patients potentially at risk to develop PD. Longitudinal follow-up studies are necessary to estimate the ratio of patients with dopaminergic cell loss in the basal ganglia who will develop PD in the future.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Echoencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*
  • Tropanes


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Tropanes
  • 2-carbomethoxy-8-(3-fluoropropyl)-3-(4-iodophenyl)tropane