Atypical findings: Atypical parkinsonian syndromes or Atypical parkinsonian syndromes look-alikes

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2023 Oct:233:107975. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2023.107975. Epub 2023 Sep 17.


Objective: In parkinsonian syndromes, presentations other than current diagnostic criteria are considered atypical findings. Our goal was to identify and describe the frequency and features of uncommon manifestations of atypical parkinsonian syndromes within our group.

Methods: We retrospectively retrieved the medical records of all patients admitted to our clinic with parkinsonism between January 2011 and January 2022. We only included patients with atypical parkinsonian syndromes, in which the diagnosis was based on current clinical criteria. We retrospectively analyzed neurological, psychiatric, radiological, and electrophysiological characteristics. Typical and atypical features were classified according to the current clinical criteria and previous reports.

Results: We determined 51 patients with atypical parkinsonian syndromes; 46 were included, whereas five were excluded due to insufficient follow-up. The probable diagnoses were multiple system atrophy (MSA, n = 19), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB, n = 10), frontotemporal dementia (FTD, n = 10), corticobasal syndrome (CBS, n = 3), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP, n = 4). The prevalence of atypical findings was similar among different types of atypical parkinsonian syndromes (p = 0.847). Atypical findings were eyelid myoclonus, double vision in MSA; ataxia, myoclonus, and a typical hummingbird sign on MRI in DLB; pyramidal findings and family history in FTD; early onset, family history, and onset with psychiatric findings in PSP-like phenotype. Genetic causes were identified in the FTD-like phenotype with pyramidal findings, whereas symptom onset was early with myoclonus in the PSP-like phenotype.

Conclusion: Atypical findings such as abnormal saccades, myoclonus, and ataxia may be a part of degenerative syndromes. However, family history, onset at an earlier age, and specific neurological findings suggest genetic syndromes.

Keywords: Atypical manifestations; Atypical parkinsonian syndromes; Corticobasal syndrome; Multiple system atrophy; Progressive supranuclear palsy; Red flags.

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Frontotemporal Dementia* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Multiple System Atrophy* / diagnosis
  • Myoclonus* / diagnosis
  • Parkinsonian Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Parkinsonian Disorders* / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive* / diagnosis