, Volume 121, Issue 1, pp 41-47
Date: 02 Aug 2013

Retinal single-layer analysis in Parkinsonian syndromes: an optical coherence tomography study

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We report a newly developed analysis algorithm for optical coherence tomography (OCT) that makes a retinal single-layer analysis with calculation of the average thickness of retinal layers possible. The aim of the study was to examine specific patterns of retinal layer pathology as a potential marker of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease (PD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and multiple system atrophy (MSA). Spectral domain OCT with a semiautomatic algorithm to calculate the average thickness of single retinal layers was applied to foveal scans of 65 PD, 16 PSP, and 12 MSA patients as well as 41 matched controls. Demographic and clinical data were collected for correlation analysis. Only PSP and MSA showed a significant reduction of retinal layers in comparison to controls. In PD, there were no significant findings in single retinal layer measurement. Most remarkably, the thickening of the outer nuclear layer in PSP and the outer plexiform layer in MSA was highly specific for these disease entities and allowed differentiating PSP from MSA with high sensitivity and specificity. With this analysis algorithm of OCT data, disease-specific retinal layer changes could be observed. Despite a general tendency to whole retinal and single retinal layer thinning that may reflect neurodegeneration in all Parkinsonian syndromes, the specific findings in MSA and PSP may serve as a highly sensitive and specific differential diagnostic tool and as a progression marker in these disease entities. Upcoming studies with a longitudinal setting will have to prove this assumption.