Previous studies comparing phase sensitive inversion recovery (PSIR) to double inversion recovery (DIR) have demonstrated that use of PSIR improves cross-sectional in vivo detection of cortical lesions (CL) in multiple sclerosis. We studied the utility of PSIR in detection/characterization of accrual of CL over time in a 1-year longitudinal study in primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) compared to DIR. PSIR and DIR images were acquired with 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 25 patients with PPMS and 19 healthy controls at baseline, and after 1 year in 20 patients with PPMS. CL were classified as intracortical, leucocortical or juxtacortical. Lesion counts and volumes were calculated for both time points from both sequences and compared. Correlations with measures of physical and cognitive disability were determined as well as new CL counts and volumes. Compared to DIR, PSIR led to detection of a higher number of CL involving a larger proportion of patients with PPMS both cross-sectionally (p = 0.006, 88%) and longitudinally (p = 0.007, 95%), and led to the reclassification of a third of CL seen on DIR at each time point. Interestingly, PSIR was more sensitive to new CL accumulation over time compared to DIR. PSIR is a promising technique to monitor cortical damage and disease progression in patients with PPMS over a short-term follow-up.