Background: To determine if extracranial venous structural and flow abnormalities exist in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess the anatomy and function of major veins in the neck in 138 MS patients and 67 healthy controls (HC). Time-of-flight MR angiography (MRA) was used to assess stenosis while 2-dimensional phase-contrast flow quantification was used to assess flow at the C2/C3 and C5/C6 levels. Venous flow was normalized to the total arterial flow. The MS patients were divided into stenotic (ST) and nonstenotic (NST) groups based on MRA assessment, and each group was compared to the HC group in anatomy and flow.
Results: The MS group showed lower normalized internal jugular vein (IJV) blood flow (tIJV/tA) than the HC group (P < .001). In the MS group, 72 (52%) were classified as ST while 66 (48%) were NST. In the HC group, 11 (23%) were ST while 37 (77%) were NST. The ST-MS group had lower IJV flow than both HC and NST-MS groups.
Conclusion: After categorizing the MS population into two groups based upon anatomical stenosis, as determined from an absolute quantification of IJV cross section, clear differences in IJV flow between the ST-MS and HC samples became evident. Despite the unknown etiology of MS, abnormal venous flow was noted in a distinct group of MS patients compared to HC.
Keywords: Venous flow; flow quantification; phase-contrast MRI; stenosis; vessel cross-sectional areas.
Copyright © 2014 by the American Society of Neuroimaging.