Comparison of Multiple Sclerosis Cortical Lesion Types Detected by Multicontrast 3T and 7T MRI

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2019 Jul;40(7):1162-1169. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A6099. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Background and purpose: Our aims were the following: 1) to compare multicontrast cortical lesion detection using 3T and 7T MR imaging, 2) to compare cortical lesion type frequency in relapsing-remitting and secondary-progressive MS, and 3) to assess whether detectability is related to the magnetization transfer ratio, an imaging marker sensitive to myelin content.

Materials and methods: Multicontrast 3T and 7T MR images from 10 participants with relapsing-remitting MS and 10 with secondary-progressive MS. We used the following 3T contrast sequences: 3D-T1-weighted, quantitative T1, FLAIR, magnetization-transfer, and 2D proton-density- and T2-weighted. We used the following 7T contrast sequences: 3D-T1-weighted, quantitative T1, and 2D-T2*-weighted.

Results: Cortical lesion counts at 7T were the following: 720 total cortical lesions, 420 leukocortical lesions (58%), 27 intracortical lesions (4%), and 273 subpial lesions (38%). Cortical lesion counts at 3T were the following: 424 total cortical, 393 leukocortical (93%), zero intracortical, and 31 subpial (7%) lesions. Total, intracortical, and subpial 3T lesion counts were significantly lower than the 7T counts (P < .002). Leukocortical lesion counts were not significantly different between scanners. Total and leukocortical lesion counts were significantly higher in secondary-progressive MS, at 3T and 7T (P ≤ .02). Subpial lesions were significantly higher in secondary-progressive MS at 7T (P = .006). The magnetization transfer ratio values of leukocortical lesions visible on both scanners were significantly lower than the magnetization transfer ratio values of leukocortical lesions visible only at 3T. No significant difference was found in magnetization transfer ratio values between subpial lesions visible only at 7T and subpial lesions visible on both 3T and 7T.

Conclusions: Detection of leukocortical lesions at 3T is comparable with that at 7T MR imaging. Imaging at 3T is less sensitive to intracortical and subpial lesions. Leukocortical lesions not visible on 7T T2*-weighted MRI may be associated with less demyelination than those that are visible. Detectability of subpial lesions does not appear to be related to the degree of demyelination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / diagnostic imaging*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / diagnostic imaging*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / pathology
  • Neuroimaging / methods*