Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is the most prevalent adult motor neuron disease and involves both upper and lower motor neurons. It is characterized by progressive weakness, generalized muscular atrophy, diffuse cramps, fasciculations and sometimes spasticity. Pathophysiology of ALS remains largely elusive, so that therapeutic efforts are at most palliative. Early diagnosis of ALS is hampered by the large number of diseases with similar symptoms. Therefore, biological markers would be extremely helpful to diagnose the disease and to monitor its course. Thus, we propose a transversal study in order to evaluate the usefulness of quantitative Magnetic Ressonance Imaging (MRI) of the cervical spinal cord in ALS. First, we are selecting 30 subjects with confirmed ALS (according to the El Escorial criteria), and also a group of healthy control subjects. Each subject will undergo a neurological evaluation and MRI scanning on the same day. The ALS functional rating scale will be used to quantify motor dysfunction in these patients. We will employ a previously validated software (Spineseg) to determine cord cross-sectional area and eccentricity at C2-C3 level. These values will be compared between patients and controls. In addition, we will perform correlation analyses to determine if these measures are associated to clinical parameters, expressed by the ALSFRS score.
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