A Comparison of Phase Imaging and Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping in the Imaging of Multiple Sclerosis Lesions at Ultrahigh Field

MAGMA. 2016 Jun;29(3):543-57. doi: 10.1007/s10334-016-0560-5. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the use of high-resolution phase and QSM images acquired at ultra-high field in the investigation of multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions with peripheral rings, and to discuss their usefulness for drawing inferences about underlying tissue composition.

Materials and methods: Thirty-nine Subjects were scanned at 7 T, using 3D T 2*-weighted and T 1-weighted sequences. Phase images were then unwrapped and filtered, and quantitative susceptibility maps were generated using a thresholded k-space division method. Lesions were compared visually and using a 1D profiling algorithm.

Results: Lesions displaying peripheral rings in the phase images were identified in 10 of the 39 subjects. Dipolar projections were apparent in the phase images outside of the extent of several of these lesions; however, QSM images showed peripheral rings without such projections. These projections appeared ring-like in a small number of phase images where no ring was observed in QSM. 1D profiles of six well-isolated example lesions showed that QSM contrast corresponds more closely to the magnitude images than phase contrast.

Conclusions: Phase images contain dipolar projections, which confounds their use in the investigation of tissue composition in MS lesions. Quantitative susceptibility maps correct these projections, providing insight into the composition of MS lesions showing peripheral rings.

Keywords: Iron; Magnetic resonance imaging; Multiple sclerosis; Myelin; White matter.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Iron / chemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Myelin Sheath / chemistry
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • Iron