Brain magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities in neuromyelitis optica

Acta Neurol Scand. 2008 Oct;118(4):218-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2008.01012.x. Epub 2008 Mar 31.


Objective: Brain abnormalities in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) attracted much attention. Our study was to identify the brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in Chinese NMO patients.

Methods: Patients who fulfilled the latest diagnostic criteria of NMO proposed by Wingerchuk et al. [Neurology 66 (2006) 1485] and whose brain MRI did not meet the multiple sclerosis (MS) criteria of McDonald et al. [Ann Neurol 50 (2001) 121] were selected to perform MRI scanning of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Results: Twenty-eight of 33 patients (84.8%) had abnormal MRI findings. Twenty-two patients (66.7%) presented with well-defined brain parenchymal lesions and the other six patients (18.2%) with macroscopic symmetrical diffuse hyperintensities in deep white matter. Fifteen of 22 patients had more than one lesion (> or =2 lesions) and the other seven patients had single lesion. In the supratentorium, most lesions were punctate or small round dot and non-specific in juxtacortical, subcortical and deep white matter regions, a few were patchy atypical confluent lesions. Brainstem was easily involved (14/33, 42.4%) especially in medulla (7/33, 21.2%).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the characteristics of brain MRI abnormalities in Chinese NMO patients, which are helpful to the revision of diagnostic criteria for NMO.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Brain / pathology*
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromyelitis Optica / pathology*
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology