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Impairment of visuospatial/visuoconstructional skills in multiple sclerosis patients: the correlation with regional lesion load and subcortical atrophy

R. Marasescu, M. Cerezo Garcia, Y. Aladro Benito

Neurología, Available online 3 September 2015

Abstract
 

Introduction

About 20% to 26% of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) show alterations in visuospatial/visuoconstructive (VS-VC) skills even though temporo-parieto-occipital impairment is a frequent finding in magnetic resonance imaging. No studies have specifically analysed the relationship between these functions and lesion volume (LV) in these specific brain areas.

Objective

To evaluate the relationship between VS-VC impairment and magnetic resonance imaging temporo-parieto-occipital LV with subcortical atrophy in patients with MS.

Methodology

Of 100 MS patients undergoing a routine neuropsychological evaluation, 21 were selected because they displayed VS-VC impairments in the following tests: Incomplete picture, Block design (WAIS-III), and Rey-Osterrieth complex figure test. We also selected 13 MS patients without cognitive impairment (control group). Regional LV was measured in FLAIR and T1-weighted images using a semiautomated method; subcortical atrophy was measured by bicaudate ratio and third ventricle width. Partial correlations (controlling for age and years of school) and linear regression analysis were employed to analyse correlations between magnetic resonance imaging parameters and cognitive performance.

Results

All measures of LV and brain atrophy were significantly higher in patients with cognitive impairment. Regional LV, bicaudate ratio, and third ventricle width are significantly and inversely correlated with cognitive performance; the strongest correlation was between third ventricle width and VC performance (Block design: P = .001; Rey-Osterrieth complex figure: P < .000). In the multivariate analysis, third ventricle width only had a significant effect on performance of VC tasks (Block design: P = .000; Rey-Osterrieth complex figure: P = .000), and regional FLAIR VL was linked to the VS task (Incomplete picture; P = .002).

Conclusions

Measures of subcortical atrophy explain the variations in performance on visuocostructive tasks, and regional FLAIR VL measures are linked to VS tasks