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MRI monitoring of pathological changes in the spinal cord in patients with multiple sclerosis

Achim Gass, Maria A Rocca, Federica Agosta, Olga Ciccarelli, Declan Chard, Paola Valsasina, Jonathan C W Brooks, Antje Bischof, Philipp Eisele, Ludwig Kappos, Frederik Barkhof, Massimo Filippi, for the MAGNIMS Study Group

The Lancet Neurology, Volume 14, Issue 4, April 2015, Pages 443-454

Summary

The spinal cord is a clinically important site that is affected by pathological changes in most patients with multiple sclerosis; however, imaging of the spinal cord with conventional MRI can be difficult. Improvements in MRI provide a major advantage for spinal cord imaging, with better signal-to-noise ratio and improved spatial resolution. Through the use of multiplanar MRI, identification of diffuse and focal changes in the whole spinal cord is now routinely possible. Corroborated by related histopathological analyses, several new techniques, such as magnetisation transfer, diffusion tension imaging, functional MRI, and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, can detect non-focal, spinal cord pathological changes in patients with multiple sclerosis. Additionally, functional MRI can reveal changes in the response pattern to sensory stimulation in patients with multiple sclerosis. Through use of these techniques, findings of cord atrophy, intrinsic cord damage, and adaptation are shown to occur largely independently of focal spinal cord lesion load, which emphasises their relevance in depiction of the true burden of disease. Combinations of magnetisation transfer ratio or diffusion tension imaging indices with cord atrophy markers seem to be the most robust and meaningful biomarkers to monitor disease evolution in early multiple sclerosis.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

This online Resource Centre has been made possible by a donation from EMD Serono, Inc., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Note that EMD Serono, Inc., has no editorial control or influence over the content of this Resource Centre. The Resource Centre and all content therein are subject to an independent editorial review.

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Journal Editor's choice

Recommended by Prof. Brenda Banwell

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Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, September 2015, Vol 4 Issue 5