Hallervorden-Spatz disease: MR and pathologic findings

M. Savoiardo, L. W C Halliday, N. Nardocci, L. Strada, L. D'Incerti, L. Angelini, V. Rumi, J. D. Tesoro-Tess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: To compare the MR findings of eight cases with clinical diagnosis of Hallervorden-Spatz disease (HSD) with the pathologic findings of two other cases of HSD. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The eight imaged cases were studied with 0.5-T (seven cases) and/or 1.5-T (five cases) units. Six patients also had CT scans. The two other cases with proven HSD had detailed histologic evaluation. RESULTS: The 1.5-T findings showed abnormalities confined to the pallidum, which presented a diffuse low signal intensity in T2-weighted images, and an anteromedial area of high signal intensity (eye-of-the-tiger sign). In 0.5-T studies, low signal intensity was less evident and poorly detectable in spin echo, but gradient-echo images could enhance its demonstration; the area of high signal intensity was always well demonstrated. In three cases (three with 1.5 T, one with 0.5 T) a central spot of low signal intensity was seen in this area. The pathologic cases, in addition to neuroaxonal swellings and iron deposits, exhibited areas of 'loose' tissue with vacuolization and lesser amounts of iron in the anteromedial part of the pallidum, in a location corresponding to the area of high signal intensity of the imaged cases. CONCLUSION: Comparison of MR findings with the pathologic studies demonstrates that the low signal intensity in T2-weighted images at 1.5 T corresponds to iron deposits in a dense tissue, and that the high signal intensity of the eye-of-the-tiger sign corresponds to an area of loose tissue with vacuolization. No correlation was found in the two pathologic cases for the central spot of low signal intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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