Is DAT imaging abnormality in normal pressure hydrocephalus always suggestive of degeneration?

Claudia Del Gamba, Antonino Bruno, Daniela Frosini, Duccio Volterrani, Gianmichele Migaleddu, Nicola Benedetto, Paolo Perrini, Claudio Pacchetti, Mirco Cosottini, Ubaldo Bonuccelli, Roberto Ceravolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) is a debated entity with controversial pathogenesis, diagnostic criteria, and predictors of response after ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS). Parkinsonian signs are frequently reported in the clinical picture, sometimes due to the coexistence of an underlying neurodegenerative parkinsonism and sometimes in the absence thereof. To distinguish these two scenarios is crucial, since they may carry different long-term response to CSF drainage. 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT was believed to be helpful in this regard, however its role in predicting surgical outcome has been disputed. We illustrate a patient presented with gait disturbance, urinary incontinence, and asymmetrical parkinsonian signs, who underwent a 3T brain MRI and a 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT. VPS was performed. The patient repeated a 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT, 18 months after the operation, and was clinically followed up for 24 months. Our patient displayed clinical and radiological criteria for iNPH and an abnormal asymmetrical uptake in 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT, consistent with her asymmetrical parkinsonism. However, the organization of the substantia nigra studied with iron-sensitive sequences in 3T brain MRI scan appeared intact. The patient revealed an improvement both clinically and in 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT at postsurgical follow-up. Our report suggests that abnormal 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT may not necessarily reveal an overlap with neurodegenerative parkinsonism; its partial reversibility may suggest that the mechanical effect exerted on the striatum by ventriculomegaly ultimately leads to downregulation of dopaminergic transporters which may improve after VPS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-726
Number of pages4
JournalNeurol. Sci.
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2021


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