We propose a new approach for quantifying regions of interest (ROIs) in medical image data. Rotationally invariant shape descriptors (ISDs) were applied to 3D brain regions extracted from MRI scans of 5 Parkinson's patients and 10 control subjects. We concentrated on the thalamus and the caudate nucleus since prior studies have suggested they are affected in Parkinson's disease (PD). In the caudate, both the ISD and volumetric analyses found significant differences between control and PD subjects. The ISD analysis however revealed additional differences between the left and right caudate nuclei in both control and PD subjects. In the thalamus, the volumetric analysis showed significant differences between PD and control subjects, while ISD analysis found significant differences between the left and right thalami in control subjects but not in PD patients, implying disease-induced shape changes. These results suggest that employing ISDs for ROI characterization both complements and extends traditional volumetric analyses.