Determination of multiple sclerosis plaque size with diffusion-tensor MR Imaging: comparison study with healthy volunteers.
PURPOSE: To use diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to measure involvement of normal-appearing white matter (WM) immediately adjacent to multiple sclerosis (MS) plaques and thus redefine actual plaque size on diffusion-tensor images through comparison with T2-weighted images of equivalent areas in healthy volunteers. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Informed consent was not required given the retrospective nature of the study on an anonymized database. The study complied with requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Twelve patients with MS (four men, eight women; mean age, 35 years) and 14 healthy volunteers (six men, eight women; mean age, 25 years) were studied. The authors obtained fractional anisotropy (FA) values in MS plaques and in the adjacent normal-appearing WM in patients with MS and in equivalent areas in healthy volunteers. They placed regions of interest (ROIs) around the periphery of plaques and defined the total ROIs (ie, plaques plus peripheral ROIs) as abnormal if their mean FA values were at least 2 standard deviations below those of equivalent ROIs within equivalent regions in healthy volunteers. The combined area of the plaque and the peripheral ROI was compared with the area of the plaque seen on T2-weighted MR images by means of a Student paired t test (P = .05). RESULTS: The mean plaque size on T2-weighted images was 72 mm2 +/- 21 (standard deviation). The mean plaque FA value was 0.285 +/- 0.088 (0.447 +/- 0.069 in healthy volunteers [P < .001]; mean percentage reduction in FA in MS plaques, 37%). The mean plaque size on FA maps was 91 mm2 +/- 35, a mean increase of 127% compared with the size of the original plaque on T2-weighted images (P = .03). CONCLUSION: A significant increase in plaque size was seen when normal-appearing WM was interrogated with diffusion-tensor MR imaging. This imaging technique may represent a more sensitive method of assessing disease burden and may have a future role in determining disease burden and activity.
Kealey, SM; Kim, Y; Whiting, WL; Madden, DJ; Provenzale, JM
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