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Descriptive neuroradiology: beyond the hummingbird


Radiology signs have long been described in ways that communicate the imagery around us to enhance our cognitive perception. Here, we describe the use and limitations of 10 such signs in neuroradiology, divided into three groups. The first are signs that are reliable for a specific diagnosis, such as the Medusa head sign indicating a developmental venous anomaly, or a racing car sign in agenesis of corpus callosum. The second group of signs helps us to diagnose rare conditions, such as the onion skin sign in Balo’s concentric sclerosis. The third group is of unreliable signs that may lead clinicians astray. For example, the absence of a swallow-tail sign in Parkinson’s disease or the presence of a hummingbird sign and Mickey Mouse sign in progressive supranuclear palsy. The appropriate use of these signs in clinical practice is essential.

  • Neuroradiology
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • multisystem atrophy
  • supranuclear palsy

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