Iron deposition in multiple sclerosis lesions measured by susceptibility-weighted imaging filtered phase: a case control study

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2012 Jul;36(1):73-83. doi: 10.1002/jmri.23603. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Purpose: To investigate phase lesions identified on susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI)-filtered phase images in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and healthy controls (HC). To relate phase lesion characteristics to other clinical and MRI outcomes.

Materials and methods: 95 relapsing-remitting (RR), 40 secondary-progressive (SP) MS patients, as well as 19 CIS patients and 49 age- and sex-matched HC, were scanned on a 3T scanner. Phase-, T1-, and T2-lesion characteristics were determined. Overlap of T1- and T2-weighted imaging (WI) lesions with phase lesions (T1P and T2P), as well as brain atrophy outcomes, was assessed.

Results: MS patients showed significantly greater numbers and larger volume of phase lesions, compared with HC (P < 0.001). 23.6% of T2 lesions overlapped with phase lesions, whereas the same figure for T1 lesions was 37.3%. Conversely, 33.4% and 69.7% of phase lesions were not visible on T2- or T1-WI, respectively. Phase, T1P and T2P lesions were not related to clinical outcomes, but phase lesions were related to ventricular enlargement.

Conclusion: Phase lesions were present in both MS and CIS patients, and showed partial overlap with lesions observed using conventional MRI. The role of phase lesions in clinical progression remains unclear and should be further explored.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / complications*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity