Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
  • Advances in the application of MRI to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    IMPORTANCE OF THE FIELD: With the emergence of therapeutic candidates for the incurable and rapidly progressive neurodegenerative condition of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), it will be essential to develop easily obtainable biomarkers for diagnosis, as well as monitoring, in a disease where clinical examination remains the predominant diagnostic tool. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has greatly developed over the past thirty years since its initial introduction to neuroscience. With multi-modal applications, MRI is now offering exciting opportunities to develop practical biomarkers in ALS. AREAS COVERED IN THIS REVIEW: The historical application of MRI to the field of ALS, its state-of-the-art and future aspirations will be reviewed. Specifically, the significance and limitations of structural MRI to detect gross morphological tissue changes in relation to clinical presentation will be discussed. The more recent application of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), functional and resting-state MRI (fMRI & R-fMRI) will be contrasted in relation to these more conventional MRI assessments. Finally, future aspirations will be sketched out in providing a more disease mechanism-based molecular MRI. WHAT THE READER WILL GAIN: This review will equip the reader with an overview of the application of MRI to ALS and illustrate its potential to develop biomarkers. This discussion is exemplified by key studies, demonstrating the strengths and limitations of each modality. The reader will gain an expert opinion on both the current and future developments of MR imaging in ALS. TAKE HOME MESSAGE: MR imaging generates potential diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic monitoring biomarkers of ALS. The emerging fusion of structural, functional and potentially molecular imaging will improve our understanding of wider cerebral connectivity and holds the promise of biomarkers sensitive to the earliest changes.

  • The sex ratio in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A population based study.

    24 October 2018

    Replicable risk factors for ALS include increasing age, family history and being male. The male: female ratio has been reported as being between 1 and 3. We tested the hypothesis that the sex ratio changes with age in a population register covering the south-east of England. The sex ratio before and after the age of 51 years was compared using a Z-test for proportions. Kendall's tau was used to assess the relationship between age group and sex ratio using incidence and prevalence data. Publicly available data from Italian and Irish population registers were compared with results. There was a significant difference in the proportion of females with ALS between those in the younger group (30.11%) and those in the older group (43.66%) (p = 0.013). The adjusted male: female ratio dropped from 2.5 in the younger group to 1.4 in the older group using prevalence data (Kendall's tau = -0.73, p = 0.039). Similar ratios were found in the Italian but not the Irish registry. We concluded that sex ratios in ALS may change with age. Over-representation of younger patients in clinic registers may explain the variation in sex ratios between studies. Menopause may also play a role.

  • The association between ALS and population density: A population based study.

    24 October 2018

    We aimed to assess whether rural residence is associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the south-east of England using a population based register. Previous studies in different populations have produced contradictory findings. Residence defined by London borough or non-metropolitan district at time of diagnosis was recorded for each incident case in the South-East England ALS Register between 1995 and 2005. Each of the 26 boroughs or districts of the catchment area of the register was classified according to population density. Age- and sex-adjusted incidence of ALS was calculated for each region and the relationship with population density tested by linear regression, thereby controlling for the underlying population structure. We found that population density in region of residence at diagnosis explained 25% of the variance in ALS rates (r = 0.5, p < 0.01). Thus, in this cohort in the south-east of England, people with ALS were more likely to be resident in areas of high population density at diagnosis.

  • A resistant case of spontaneous intracranial hypotension.

    24 October 2018

    The case of a 39-year-old with intractable spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) is presented. He developed bilateral and symptomatic subdural hygromas that were drained in response to clinical deterioration, but proved ineffective. An initial MRI of the lumbar region suggested a lumbosacral CSF leak, but he failed to respond to local blood patching. Subsequent CT myelography revealed a thoracic dural leak and a second directed blood patch proved effective. The aetiology, pitfalls and management of SIH are summarized.

  • A case of celiac disease mimicking amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND: A 44-year-old male presented to a general neurology clinic with a 6-month history of progressive right-sided spastic hemiparesis without sensory symptoms or signs. The thigh muscle in the affected leg showed signs of wasting. The patient had a remote family history of celiac disease. INVESTIGATIONS: Neurological examination, neurophysiological studies, brain MRI scan, routine blood tests, duodenal biopsy, cerebrospinal fluid analysis including polymerase chain reaction test for JC virus DNA, serological testing for HIV and for the presence of serum antibodies to endomysium, gliadin and tissue transglutaminase. DIAGNOSIS: Celiac disease with neurological involvement, mimicking amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. MANAGEMENT: Strict gluten-free diet.

  • Starting a research post: some considerations for ward-based doctors.

    24 October 2018

    Starting a research post after ward-based work can be a leap of faith and, as rewarding as it ultimately is, the initial transition can be a difficult one. This article addresses some of the questions which someone considering research should ask.

  • Young-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Historical and other observations

    24 October 2018

    There is a wide range of age at initial symptom onset in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis despite a mean age of 65 years in population-based studies. 'Young-onset' amyotrophic lateral sclerosis typically refers to patients younger than ∼45 years and accounts for about 10 of cases in contemporary series. A review of published cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from 1850 to 1950 revealed a far higher proportion of cases with young onset (>50), with a steady decline to the contemporary figure. It is possible that this is not solely explained by increases in life expectancy. While there is still a rich variation in phenotypes among cases of young-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, bulbar onset was found to be significantly under-represented in analysis of a large patient database, with implications for age-related vulnerabilities pertaining to focality of symptom onset. The timing of initiating pathological processes in relation to the emergence of symptoms is discussed, including the potential role of very early development and the interaction of epigenetic and environmental factors. © 2012 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved.

  • Young-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: historical and other observations.

    24 October 2018

    There is a wide range of age at initial symptom onset in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis despite a mean age of 65 years in population-based studies. 'Young-onset' amyotrophic lateral sclerosis typically refers to patients younger than ∼45 years and accounts for about 10% of cases in contemporary series. A review of published cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from 1850 to 1950 revealed a far higher proportion of cases with young onset (>50%), with a steady decline to the contemporary figure. It is possible that this is not solely explained by increases in life expectancy. While there is still a rich variation in phenotypes among cases of young-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, bulbar onset was found to be significantly under-represented in analysis of a large patient database, with implications for age-related vulnerabilities pertaining to focality of symptom onset. The timing of initiating pathological processes in relation to the emergence of symptoms is discussed, including the potential role of very early development and the interaction of epigenetic and environmental factors.

  • Epilepsy and the subsequent risk of cerebral tumour: record linkage retrospective cohort study.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND: Studies suggest that seizures may precede the detection of cerebral tumour by several years. Aim To quantify the risk of cerebral tumour after new onset seizures, with particular interest in long term risk. METHODS: Using the Oxford Record Linkage Study (ORLS, 1963-1998) and English national linked Hospital Episode Statistics (1999-2005), cohorts of people with a first admission for epilepsy were constructed. Subsequent admissions with cerebral tumour were identified. The rate of occurrence of subsequent cerebral tumour in each epilepsy cohort was compared with that in a comparison cohort and expressed as a rate ratio (RR). RESULTS: The RR for cerebral tumour after epilepsy, relative to the rate of cerebral tumour in the comparison cohort, was 19.9 (95% CI 17.2 to 22.9) in the ORLS cohort and 19.7 (18.3-21.1) in the England cohort. The RR for malignant tumours were, respectively, 25.6 (21.7 to 30.0) and 27.3 (25.2 to 29.6). The RR for benign tumours were 10.1 (7.38 to 13.6) and 10.4 (9.07 to 11.8), respectively. The risk was highest for those aged 15-44 years at initial admission for epilepsy both in Oxford (24.2, 18.5 to 31.5) and England (38.1, 32.8 to 44.2). The risk of cerebral tumour was still raised several years after initial admission for epilepsy: in the ORLS cohort at 15&emsp14;years or more, the RR was 3.29 (1.39 to 6.66) and, in the England cohort 5-7 years after initial admission, the RR was 5.27 (3.87 to 7.06). CONCLUSIONS: Seizures may herald the development of cerebral tumour, remote in time as well as soon after onset, with implications for guidelines on continued surveillance of those with new onset seizures.