Sonographic alteration of substantia nigra is related to parkinsonism-predominant course of X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism.
OBJECTIVES Transcranial sonography of the substantia nigra for diagnosing premotor stages of Parkinson disease has been attracting increasing interest. Standard reference values defining an abnormal increased echogenic size (hyperechogenicity) of the substantia nigra have been established in several populations using high-end stationary ultrasound systems. It is unknown whether a portable ultrasound system can be appropriately used and how the Filipino population would compare with the well-studied white population. METHODS We prospectively studied substantia nigra echogenic sizes and third ventricle widths in 71 healthy adult German participants and 30 age- and sex-matched Filipino participants using both a well-established stationary ultrasound system (in the German cohort) and a recently distributed portable ultrasound system (in both ethnic cohorts). RESULTS Mean substantia nigra echogenic sizes, cutoff values defining abnormal hyperechogenicity, and intra-rater reliability were similar with both systems and in both ethnic cohorts studied. The Filipino and German participants did not differ with respect to the frequency of insufficient insonation conditions (each 3%) and substantia nigra hyperechogenicity (10% versus 9%; P = .80). However, third ventricle widths were smaller in the Filipino than the German participants (mean ± SD, 1.6 ± 1.1 versus 2.4 ± 1.0 mm; P = .004). CONCLUSIONS The frequency of substantia nigra hyperechogenicity appears to be homogeneous in white and Asian populations. Screening for this feature may well be performed with a present-day portable ultrasound system.