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Richard G. Ellenbogen, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery,
Director, UW Neurosciences Institute
Bruce R. Ransom, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, Adjunct Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Co-Director, UW Neurosciences Institute
Contributing Authors:
Ali Samii, MD, Professor, Department of Neurology, Co-Director of the Movement Disorder Fellowship
Andrew L. Ko, MD, Assistant Professor, Director for Functional & Restorative Surgery, Department of Neurological Surgery

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, after Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common cause of Parkinsonism, a syndrome of rigidity, tremor and bradykinesia. Medical and surgical therapies can ameliorate the symptoms of PD, improving both quality of life, and life expectancy; however, PD continues to result in progressive disability and increased mortality, affecting more than 1 million Americans.

DEFINING PARKINSON’S DISEASE AND PARKINSONISM: Parkinsonism describes a syndrome characterized by tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia. Parkinson’s disease is the main cause. Definite diagnosis of this entity requires autopsy; pathological findings in PD include a diminished number of nigral dopamine neurons with the presence of Lewy bodies in surviving neurons. Clinical diagnosis of PD is based on history and physical examination (Table 1) . There are no laboratory tests or imaging studies that unequivocally confirm the diagnosis. Advanced neuroimaging of the nigrostriatal dopamine pathway with Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) may be a useful diagnostic tool, but should be viewed as complementary to clinical acumen in the evaluation of PD.

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MARCH 2015 | Volume 3: Issue 1