Neuroradiological Findings in the Spinocerebellar Ataxias

  • Alex Tiburtino Meira
  • Walter Oleschko Arruda
  • Sergio Eiji Ono
  • Arnolfo de Carvalho Neto
  • Salmo Raskin
  • Carlos Henrique F. Camargo
  • Hélio Afonso G Teive


Background: The spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a group of autosomal dominant degenerative diseases characterized by cerebellar ataxia. Classified according to gene discovery, specific features of the SCAs – clinical, laboratorial, and neuroradiological (NR) – can facilitate establishing the diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to review the particular NR abnormalities in the main SCAs.

Methods: We conducted a literature search on this topic.

Results: The main NR characteristics of brain imaging (magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography) in SCAs were: (1) pure cerebellar atrophy; (2) cerebellar atrophy with other findings (e.g., pontine, olivopontocerebellar, spinal, cortical, or subcortical atrophy; “hot cross bun sign”, and demyelinating lesions); (3) selective cerebellar atrophy; (4) no cerebellar atrophy.

Discussion: The main NR abnormalities in the commonest SCAs, are not pathognomonic of any specific genotype, but can be helpful in limiting the diagnostic options. We are progressing to a better understanding of the SCAs, not only genetically, but also pathologically; NR is helpful in the challenge of diagnosing the specific genotype of SCA.

Keywords: Spinocerebellar ataxia, brain imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, ataxia, gait ataxia, cerebellar diseases

Citation: Meira AT, Arruda WO, Ono SE, de Carvalho Neto A, Raskin S, Camargo CHF, et al. Neuroradiological Findings in the Spinocerebellar Ataxias. Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov. 2019: 9. doi: 10.7916/tohm.v0.682