Perfusion ECD/SPECT in the characterization of cognitive deficits in Parkinson's disease
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Cognitive abnormalities have been reported in a large percentage of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Often cognitive changes are sub-clinical and involve frontal lobe function. In other occasions they develop into full dementia. Functional neuroimaging may help characterize these abnormalities. We have studied brain perfusion with SPECT and the tracer ECD in 44 PD patients, 22 presenting with normal cognitive function and 22 with clinical and neuropsychological signs of dementia. Compared with 21 healthy controls, demented PD patients showed significant perfusion decrements in all cortical areas, particularly temporal and parietal regions; in the non-demented cohort reductions were limited to the frontal lobe area. These results suggest that brain perfusion abnormalities are present in PD patients. It is speculated that different pathological mechanisms underlie perfusion differences.