Imaging central veins in brain lesions with 3-T T2*-weighted magnetic resonance imaging differentiates multiple sclerosis from microangiopathic brain lesions

Mult Scler. 2016 Sep;22(10):1289-96. doi: 10.1177/1352458515616700. Epub 2015 Dec 10.


Background: White matter lesions are frequently detected using brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed for various indications. Most are microangiopathic, but demyelination, including multiple sclerosis (MS), is an important cause; conventional MRI cannot always distinguish between these pathologies. The proportion of lesions with a central vein on 7-T T2*-weighted MRI prospectively distinguishes demyelination from microangiopathic lesions.

Objective: To test whether 3-T T2*-weighted MRI can differentiate MS from microangiopathic brain lesions.

Methods: A total of 40 patients were studied. Initially, a test cohort of 10 patients with MS and 10 patients with microangiopathic white matter lesions underwent 3-T T2*-weighted brain MRI. Anonymised scans were analysed blind to clinical data, and simple diagnostic rules were devised. These rules were applied to a validation cohort of 20 patients (13 with MS and 7 with microangiopathic lesions) by a blinded observer.

Results: Within the test cohort, all patients with MS had central veins visible in >45% of brain lesions, while the rest had central veins visible in <45% of lesions. By applying diagnostic rules to the validation cohort, all remaining patients were correctly categorised.

Conclusion: 3-T T2*-weighted brain MRI distinguishes perivenous MS lesions from microangiopathic lesions. Clinical application of this technique could supplement existing diagnostic algorithms.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; diagnosis; magnetic resonance imaging; sensitivity and specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Veins / diagnostic imaging*
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*