Vascular Parkinsonism: Deconstructing a Syndrome

Joaquin A. Vizcarra, Anthony E. Lang, Kapil D. Sethi, Alberto J. Espay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Progressive ambulatory impairment and abnormal white matter (WM) signal on neuroimaging come together under the diagnostic umbrella of vascular parkinsonism (VaP). A critical appraisal of the literature, however, suggests that (1) no abnormal structural imaging pattern is specific to VaP; (2) there is poor correlation between brain MRI hyperintensities and microangiopathic brain disease and parkinsonism from available clinicopathologic data; (3) pure parkinsonism from vascular injury ("definite" vascular parkinsonism) consistently results from ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes involving the SN and/or nigrostriatal pathway, but sparing the striatum itself, the cortex, and the intervening WM; and (4) many cases reported as VaP may represent pseudovascular parkinsonism (e.g., Parkinson's disease or another neurodegenerative parkinsonism, such as PSP with nonspecific neuroimaging signal abnormalities), vascular pseudoparkinsonism (e.g., akinetic mutism resulting from bilateral mesial frontal strokes or apathetic depression from bilateral striatal lacunar strokes), or pseudovascular pseudoparkinsonism (e.g., higher-level gait disorders, including normal-pressure hydrocephalus with transependimal exudate). These syndromic designations are preferable over VaP until pathology or validated biomarkers confirm the underlying nature and relevance of the leukoaraiosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)886-894
Number of pages9
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Higher-level gait disorder
  • Normal-pressure hydrocephalus
  • Vascular parkinsonism
  • White matter ischemic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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