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MRI of lumbar trunk muscles in patients with Parkinson’s disease and camptocormia

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Camptocormia in Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an axial postural disorder usually accompanied by histopathological changes in the paravertebral muscles of unknown etiology. The diagnostic potential of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of back muscles in camptocormia has not been systematically assessed. Our objective was to characterize pathological muscle changes with MRI and to develop radiological criteria for camptocormia. The criteria edema, swelling and fatty degeneration in 20 idiopathic PD patients with camptocormia were assessed using MRI (T1w and short tau inversion recovery (STIR) sequences) of the lumbar trunk muscles and compared with 20 group-matched PD patients without camptocormia. Edema and fatty degeneration of the paravertebral muscles were significantly more frequent in camptocormia. Edema correlated negatively and fatty degeneration positively with the duration of camptocormia and not PD. Swelling of the paravertebral muscles, edema and swelling of the quadratus lumborum muscle and rare edema of the psoas muscle were only found in camptocormia patients. In this case–control study the defined MRI criteria distinguish the group of PD patients with camptocormia versus those without. Our findings suggest dynamic changes in the MRI signals over time in the paravertebral muscles: edema and swelling are found initially, followed by fatty atrophic degeneration 2–3 years after the beginning of camptocormia. Muscle MRI qualifies as a tool for categorizing phases of camptocormia as acute or chronic, with potential consequences for therapeutic approaches. The involvement of muscles beyond an isolated impairment of the paravertebral muscles implies a more systemic view with a deregulation of lumbar trunk muscles.

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The authors express their deep thanks to Sari Munser for her valuable help in gathering the data of this study, and Klarissa Hanja Stürner and Walter J. Schulz-Schaeffer for very helpful discussion of the manuscript. The study was supported by a grant from the Medical Faculty of the Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to N. G. Margraf.

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N. G. Margraf and A. Rohr contributed equally to the manuscript.

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Margraf, N.G., Rohr, A., Granert, O. et al. MRI of lumbar trunk muscles in patients with Parkinson’s disease and camptocormia. J Neurol 262, 1655–1664 (2015).

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