Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is superior in delineating anatomic and pathologic information and has subsequently been married to the ability of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to provide insight into the biochemical changes underlying pathology. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) allows the non-invasive in vivo collection and measurement of chemical information from a selected volume of tissue (voxel).
Methods: We conducted a prospective trial in 23 patients with brain mass lesions and 16 normal subjects using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS). The spectra were analyzed for N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), choline compounds (Cho), creatine (Cr), and lactate (Lac). The ratios of the compounds in tumors were compared to normals.
Results: The tumors showed significant decreases in the mean peak height ratios of NAA/Cho, NAA/Cr, and significant increases in Cho/Cr when compared to tissue from normal subjects. Cho was elevated in all of the meningiomas and gliomas. In benign tumors, Cho was usually elevated while in metastases Cho was often normal or decreased. The four metastatic tumors showed NAA/Cho, NAA/Cr, and Cho/Cr that were similar to controls. Lac varied with tumor type and was elevated in many malignant primary brain tumors.
Conclusions: 1H MRS is a powerful tool for safe, noninvasive analysis of tissue chemistry in vivo. Analysis of intracranial tumors reveals significant trends that might eventually be used in the classification of tumor histology and evaluation of the efficacy of tumor treatment.