Background: Double inversion recovery (DIR) detects only a minority (<20%) of cortical lesions (CL) in multiple sclerosis (MS). Phase-sensitive inversion recovery (PSIR) was suggested to be substantially superior to DIR in the detection of cortical lesions (CL). These two sequences might be complementary.
Objectives: To analyze CL frequency and type in MS patients having different disease duration and disability, including patients at clinical onset, and to discern more correctly the artifacts, by combining DIR and PSIR images.
Patients and methods: 40 patients were enrolled in the study: 10 clinically isolated syndrome/early relapsing remitting MS (CIS/eRRMS), 24 relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), 6 secondary progressive MS (SPMS). DIR and PSIR images were jointly used to classify lesions as purely intracortical (IC), leukocortical (LC) and juxtacortical (JC).
Results: PSIR disclosed CL in 100% of the patients and was capable of identifying more than four times lesions (455.5%, p<0.00001), especially IC (mean numbers: 36.5 in CIS/eRRMS, 45.0 in RRMS and 52.3 in SPMS) and LC (mean numbers: 10.9 in CIS/eRRMS, 20.1 in RRMS and 25.3 in SPMS), compared to DIR (p<0.00001). CL number was significantly higher in SPMS compared to RRMS (p<0.0001). Artifacts were more accurately identified by comparing the two sequences.
Conclusions: Our study confirms the higher ability of PSIR in disclosing and classifying CL. The presence of CL in all CIS patients further points out the relevance of cortical pathology in MS. Whether the parallel analysis of DIR and PSIR images may be useful for diagnostic purposes, especially when a diagnosis of MS is suspected but not confirmed by routine MRI, needs to be evaluated in larger patient series. The analysis of the cortex by DIR and PSIR may also allow a better stratification of the patients for prognostic and counseling purposes, as well as for their inclusion in clinical studies.