The place of conventional MRI and newly emerging MRI techniques in monitoring different aspects of treatment outcome

J Neurol. 2008 Mar;255 Suppl 1:61-74. doi: 10.1007/s00415-008-1009-1.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most important paraclinical measure for assessing and monitoring the pathologic changes implicated in the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). Conventional MRI sequences, such as T1-weighted gadolinium (Gd) enhanced and spin-echo T2-weighted imaging, only provide an incomplete picture of the degree of inflammation and underlying neurodegenerative changes in this disease. Two- and three-dimensional fluid-attenuated inversion recovery and double inversion recovery sequences allow better identification of cortical, periventricular and infratentorial lesions. Ultra-high field strength MRI has the potential to detect subpial cortical and deep gray matter lesions. Unenhanced T1-weighted imaging can reveal hypointense black holes, a measure of chronic neurodegeneration. Magnetization transfer imaging (MTI) is increasingly used to characterize the evolution of MS lesions and normal-appearing brain tissue. Evidence suggests that the dynamics of magnetization transfer changes correlate with the extent of demyelination and remyelination. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which provides details on tissue biochemistry, metabolism, and function, also has the capacity to reveal neuroprotective mechanisms. By measuring the motion of water, diffusion imaging can provide information about the orientation, size, and geometry of tissue damage in white and gray matter. These advanced non-conventional MRI techniques relate better to clinical impairment, disease progression, accumulation of disability, and have the potential to detect neuroprotective effects of treatment. Although detecting the status of neuronal integrity using MRI techniques continues to improve, a "gold standard" model remains to be established.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / classification
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome