Diffusion tensor imaging applications in multiple sclerosis patients using 3T magnetic resonance: a preliminary study

Eur Radiol. 2012 May;22(5):990-7. doi: 10.1007/s00330-011-2342-9. Epub 2011 Dec 9.


Objectives: This study evaluated patients with multiple sclerosis using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to obtain fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) values.

Methods: We investigated the possible statistically significant variation of MD and FA in different MS patients, compared simultaneously, putting in comparison their normal appearing white matter (NAWM) and white matter affected by disease (plaques), both during activity and in remission, with normal white matter (NWM) of control subjects.

Results: Statistical analysis using Levene's test for comparison of variances revealed significant (P < 0.05) differences between FA values of the NWM of the controls and those of NAWM and active or inactive lesions, of the patients in the study. However, the differences between MD values of the NWM of the controls and those of NAWM and active or inactive lesions of the patients in the study were judged not significant (P > 0.05).

Conclusion: Imaging of MS using MRI techniques is constantly searching for reproducible quantitative parameter. This study shows how these parameters can be identified in the MD and FA values, and thus suggests the implementation of MRI routine protocols for diagnosing MS with the DTI analysis, since it can provide valuable information otherwise unobtainable.

Key points: Magnetic resonance imaging is widely performed in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can be implemented using a 3T magnet DTI provides quantitative parameters as mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) MD and, especially, FA can help evaluate the lesion load in MS patients and also assess variation in normal appearing white matter (NAWM) in MS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity