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Parkinson's Disease

CT Scans of the Brain for MS patients

03/28/2005

Question:

Isn`t there a new discovery where MS or Parkinson patients have a CT scan of the brain to find that they have copious fluid buildup and then its removed and the patient improves

Answer:

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is not a new discovery but was highlighted in the media recently.  This condition causes enlargement of the ventricles (the spaces within the brain that are filled with cerebrospinal fluid).  This is usually a process that occurs relatively slowly, but as it occurs, it may cause some changes in the surrounding brain tissue.  The most commonly associated changes are memory or thinking problems, urinary problems (such as incontinence) and gait disturbances.  Some patients may have a shuffling or sticking type of gait that resembles Parkinson's disease; however, there are usually clues on examination that will differentiate between someone with NPH and PD. 

A variety of other symptoms may present in this condition also.  An imaging study of the brain such as an MRI scan can reveal enlarged ventricles.  Further workup, such as a nuclear scan or even a diagnostic spinal tap, may then be done to determine whether or not this is caused from NPH.  A certain amount of ventricle enlargement is seen with aging as the outer portions of the brain tissue atrophy (shrink).  Some patients diagnosed with NPH may gain improvement with drainage of the fluid by shunting (placement of a drainage tube into the ventricle of the brain).   

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Response by:

Karen M Thomas, DO Karen M Thomas, DO
Formerly:
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University