Current and new directions in MRI in multiple sclerosis

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2013 Aug;19(4 Multiple Sclerosis):1058-73. doi: 10.1212/01.CON.0000433283.00221.37.


Purpose of review: This article summarizes the use of MRI in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Current and emerging imaging techniques are reviewed pertaining to their utility in MS.

Recent findings: Conventional T1-weighted and T2-weighted sequences are used to identify and characterize disease pathology in MS. T2 lesion burden, postcontrast enhancement, T1 hypointensities, and regional and global atrophy are all informative and correlate to clinical measures, such as disease disability, to a variable extent. Newer techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging, magnetization transfer imaging, and MR spectroscopy are increasingly being incorporated into clinical trials and may provide improved specificity to the underlying pathology. Double inversion recovery and ultrahigh-field-strength MRI have direct application in MS for evaluating cortical pathology. Newer functional MRI techniques such as resting-state functional connectivity are increasingly being applied in MS.

Summary: Conventional and emerging imaging techniques greatly inform our understanding of MS. These techniques are integral in diagnosis, in evaluating new treatments for MS, and for following patients in the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy / diagnosis
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Diplopia / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Vertigo / etiology