Transcranial ultrasound shows nigral hypoechogenicity in restless legs syndrome

Ann Neurol. 2005 Oct;58(4):630-4. doi: 10.1002/ana.20572.


In patients with Parkinson's disease, hyperechogenicity of the substantia nigra using transcranial ultrasound has been related to increased tissue concentrations of iron. Recently, deficient iron transport mechanisms in substantia nigra neurons have been described in postmortem tissue of patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS). This study was performed to study substantia nigra echogenicity in RLS patients compared with normal control subjects and Parkinson's disease patients. RLS patients had significantly reduced midbrain areas of hyperechogenicity compared with control subjects, and even more markedly reduced hyperechogenicity compared with Parkinson's disease patients. These findings lend further support to nigral iron deficiency as a pathogenetic factor in RLS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Substantia Nigra / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial*