Brain Atrophy Is Associated with Disability Progression in Patients with MS followed in a Clinical Routine

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2018 Dec;39(12):2237-2242. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A5876. Epub 2018 Nov 22.


Background and purpose: The assessment of brain atrophy in a clinical routine is not performed routinely in multiple sclerosis. Our aim was to determine the feasibility of brain atrophy measurement and its association with disability progression in patients with MS followed in a clinical routine for 5 years.

Materials and methods: A total of 1815 subjects, 1514 with MS and 137 with clinically isolated syndrome and 164 healthy individuals, were collected retrospectively. Of 11,794 MR imaging brain scans included in the analysis, 8423 MRIs were performed on a 3T, and 3371 MRIs, on a 1.5T scanner. All patients underwent 3D T1WI and T2-FLAIR examinations at all time points of the study. Whole-brain volume changes were measured by percentage brain volume change/normalized brain volume change using SIENA/SIENAX on 3D T1WI and percentage lateral ventricle volume change using NeuroSTREAM on T2-FLAIR.

Results: Percentage brain volume change failed in 36.7% of the subjects; percentage normalized brain volume change, in 19.2%; and percentage lateral ventricle volume change, in 3.3% because of protocol changes, poor scan quality, artifacts, and anatomic variations. Annualized brain volume changes were significantly different between those with MS and healthy individuals for percentage brain volume change (P < .001), percentage normalized brain volume change (P = .002), and percentage lateral ventricle volume change (P = .01). In patients with MS, mixed-effects model analysis showed that disability progression was associated with a 21.9% annualized decrease in percentage brain volume change (P < .001) and normalized brain volume (P = .002) and a 33% increase in lateral ventricle volume (P = .004).

Conclusions: All brain volume measures differentiated MS and healthy individuals and were associated with disability progression, but the lateral ventricle volume assessment was the most feasible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy / complications
  • Atrophy / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lateral Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Lateral Ventricles / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Retrospective Studies