Progressive supranuclear palsy: MRI and pathological findings

Neuroradiology. 1996 May:38 Suppl 1:S60-6. doi: 10.1007/BF02278121.


Our purpose was to investigate brain atrophy and signal intensity changes on MRI in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and to correlate them with pathological features. We reviewed MRI and brain specimens of six patients with PSP, nine with Parkinson's disease (PD) and six with striatonigral degeneration (SND). Sagittal T1-weighted images showed that four patients with PSP had obvious reduction of anteroposterior midbrain diameter. T2-weighted images demonstrated diffuse high-signal lesions in the tegmentum and tectum of the midbrain of four patients, the upper pontine tegmentum of four, and the lower pontine tegmentum of two, but in no patient with PD or SND. The inferior olivary nuclei gave high signal intensity on T2-weighted images in one patient with PSP. These signal intensity changes were consistent with the pathological findings. One patient with PSP showed abnormal signal intensity in the upper pontine tegmentum without atrophy of the midbrain. Midbrain atrophy and diffuse high-signal lesions on T2-weighted images in the tegmentum and tectum of the brain stem are characteristic of PSP.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrophy
  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / pathology
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Female
  • Globus Pallidus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Pons / pathology
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / diagnosis*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / pathology