Radiological identification of the globus pallidus motor subregion in Parkinson’s disease

J Neurosurg 137:175–183, 2022

Globus pallidus (GP) lesioning improves motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and is occasionally associated with nonmotor side effects. Although these variable clinical effects were shown to be site-specific within the GP, the motor and nonmotor subregions have not been distinguished radiologically in patients with PD. The GP was recently found to have a distinct radiological signature on diffusion MRI (dMRI), potentially related to its unique cellular content and organization (or tissue architecture). In this study, the authors hypothesize that the magnitude of water diffusivity, a surrogate for tissue architecture, will radiologically distinguish motor from nonmotor GP subregions in patients with PD. They also hypothesize that the therapeutic focused ultrasound pallidotomy lesions will preferentially overlap the motor subregion.

METHODS Diffusion MRI from healthy subjects (n = 45, test-retest S1200 cohort) and PD patients (n = 33) was parcellated based on the magnitude of water diffusivity in the GP, as measured orientation distribution function (ODF). A clustering algorithm was used to identify GP parcels with distinct ODF magnitude. The individual parcels were used as seeds for tractography to distinguish motor from nonmotor subregions. The locations of focused ultrasound lesions relative to the GP parcels were also analyzed in 11 patients with PD.

RESULTS Radiologically, three distinct parcels were identified within the GP in healthy controls and PD patients: posterior, central, and anterior. The posterior and central parcels comprised the motor subregion and the anterior parcel was classified as a nonmotor subregion based on their tractography connections. The focused ultrasound lesions preferentially overlapped with the motor subregion (posterior more than central). The hotspots for motor improvement were localized in the posterior GP parcel.

CONCLUSIONS Using a data-driven approach of ODF-based parcellation, the authors radiologically distinguished GP motor subregions in patients with PD. This method can aid stereotactic targeting in patients with PD undergoing surgical treatments, especially focused ultrasound ablation.