Bone and Joint Institute


Morphology-specific discrimination between MS white matter lesions and benign white matter hyperintensities using ultra-high-field MRI

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American Journal of Neuroradiology





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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recently published North American Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis guidelines call for derivation of a specific radiologic definition of MS WM lesions and mimics. The purpose of this study was to use SWI and magnetization-prepared FLAIR images for sensitive differentiation of MS from benign WM lesions using the morphologic characteristics of WM lesions. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Seventeen patients with relapsing-remitting MS and 18 healthy control subjects were enrolled retrospectively. For each subject, FLAIR and multiecho gradient-echo images were acquired using 7T MR imaging. Optimized postprocessing was used to generate single-slice SWI of cerebral veins. SWI/FLAIR images were registered, and 3 trained readers performed lesion assessment. Morphology, location of lesions, and the time required for assessment were recorded. Analyses were performed on 3 different pools: 1) lesions of 3 mm, 2) nonconfluent lesions of 3 mm, and 3) nonconfluent lesions of 3 mm with no or a single central vein. RESULTS: The SWI/FLAIR acquisition and processing protocol enabled effective assessment of central veins and hypointense rims in WM lesions. Assessment of nonconfluent lesions with 1 central vein enabled the most specific and sensitive differentiation of patients with MS from controls. A threshold of 67% perivenous WM lesions separated patients with MS from controls with a sensitivity of 94% and specificity of 100%. Lesion assessment took an average of 12 minutes 10 seconds and 4 minutes 33 seconds for patients with MS and control subjects, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Nonconfluent lesions of 3 mm with 1 central vein were the most sensitive and specific differentiators between patients with MS and control subjects.


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