The term “basal ganglia” refers to caudate and lentiform nuclei, the latter composed of putamen and globus pallidus, substantia nigra and subthalamic nuclei and these deep gray matter structures belong to the extrapyramidal system. Many diseases may present as basal ganglia abnormalities. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) – to a lesser degree – allow for detection of basal ganglia injury. In many cases, MRI alone does not usually allow to establish diagnosis but together with the knowledge of age and circumstances of onset and clinical course of the disease is a powerful tool of differential diagnosis. The lesions may be unilateral: in Rassmussen encephalitis, diabetes with hemichorea/hemiballism and infarction or – more frequently – bilateral in many pathologic conditions. Restricted diffusion is attributable to infarction, acute hypoxic–ischemic injury, hypoglycemia, Leigh disease, encephalitis and CJD. Contrast enhancement may be seen in cases of infarction and encephalitis. T1-hyperintensity of the lesions is uncommon and may be observed unilaterally in case of hemichorea/hemiballism and bilaterally in acute asphyxia in term newborns, in hypoglycemia, NF1, Fahr disease and manganese intoxication. Decreased signal intensity on GRE/T2*-weighted images and/or SWI indicating iron, calcium or hemosiderin depositions is observed in panthotenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, Parkinson variant of multiple system atrophy, Fahr disease (and other calcifications) as well as with the advancing age. There are a few papers in the literature reviewing basal ganglia lesions. The authors present a more detailed review with rich iconography from the own archive.
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