Purpose: To evaluate whether diffusion-tensor imaging can be combined with double inversion recovery to improve the detection of structural changes occurring in the cortex of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Materials and methods: Once local ethics committee approval and informed consent were obtained, 168 patients with relapsing-remitting MS and 45 sex- and age-matched control subjects were included in a 3-year longitudinal study. Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging examinations were performed at study entry and after 3 years. Number and volume of cortical lesions, T2 white matter lesion volume (WMLV), and fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of normal-appearing gray matter (NAGM) and cortical lesions were analyzed. Between-group differences in terms of NAGM-FA and NAGM-MD were assessed with analysis of variance followed by Tukey test correction.
Results: At baseline, NAGM-FA was higher in patients (mean ± standard deviation, 0.149 ± 0.011) than in control subjects (0.125 ± 0.008; P < .001) and higher in patients with cortical lesions (0.154 ± 0.011) than in those without (0.138 ± 0.010; P < .001). Moreover, FA was higher in cortical lesions than in NAGM (P < .001). After 3 years, NAGM-FA was unchanged in control subjects and increased in patients (0.154 ± 0.012; P < .001), especially in patients with worsened EDSS score (0.170 ± 0.011; P < .001). The same behavior was observed for NAGM-MD. At baseline, NAGM-FA significantly correlated with EDSS score (r = 0.75; P < .001) and cortical lesion volume (r = 0.850; P < .001). Multivariate analysis identified NAGM-FA (B = 0.654; P < .001) and T2 WMLV (B = 0.310; P < .001) as independent predictors of EDSS score, while NAGM-FA change (B = 0.523; P < .001) and disease duration (B = 0.342; P < .001) were independent predictors of EDSS change.
Conclusion: Compared with control subjects, patients with RRMS had an increase in FA of NAGM that strongly correlated with cortical lesion volume and clinical disability.
© RSNA, 2011.