This MRI study was performed to evaluate in vivo alterations of the spinal cord in defined subgroups of motor neuron diseases. Standard MRI examinations of the cervical and thoracic spinal cord in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; n = 39), sporadic lower motor neuron disease (LMND; n = 19), Kennedy's disease (KD; n = 19) and a control group (n = 96) were analyzed with respect to spinal cord signal changes and the thickness of the spinal cord. No significant changes in thickness or signal alterations were observed when comparing ALS, LMND and control groups with one another. However, in KD patients significant upper spinal cord atrophy was detected at the cervical level as compared with all other groups. At the thoracic level, KD patients had significant upper cord atrophy as compared with controls and LMND. Marked atrophy of the upper spinal cord seems to be a feature of the KD-associated central-peripheral distal axonopathy.
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