A better characterization of spinal cord damage in multiple sclerosis: A diffusional kurtosis imaging study

E. Raz, M. Bester, E. E. Sigmund, A. Tabesh, J. S. Babb, H. Jaggi, J. Helpern, R. J. Mitnick, M. Inglese

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61 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The spinal cord is a site of predilection for MS lesions. While diffusion tensor imaging is useful for the study of anisotropic systems such as WM tracts, it is of more limited utility in tissues with more isotropic microstructures (on the length scales studied with diffusion MR imaging) such as gray matter. In contrast, diffusional kurtosis imaging, which measures both Gaussian and non-Gaussian properties of water diffusion, provides more biomarkers of both anisotropic and isotropic structural changes. The aim of this study was to investigate the cervical spinal cord of patients with MS and to characterize lesional and normal-appearing gray matter and WM damage by using diffusional kurtosis imaging. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Nineteen patients (13 women, mean age = 41.1 ± 10.7 years) and 16 controls (7 women, mean age = 35.6 ± 11. 2-years) underwent MR imaging of the cervical spinal cord on a 3T scanner (T2 TSE, T1 magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition of gradient echo, diffusional kurtosis imaging, T2 fast low-angle shot). Fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, and mean kurtosis were measured on the whole cord and in normal-appearing gray matter and WM. RESULTS: Spinal cord T2-hyperintense lesions were identified in 18 patients. Whole spinal cord fractional anisotropy and mean kurtosis (P =.0009, P =.003), WM fractional anisotropy (P =.01), and gray matter mean kurtosis (P =.006) were significantly decreased, and whole spinal cord mean diffusivity (P =.009) was increased in patients compared with controls. Mean spinal cord area was significantly lower in patients (P =.04). CONCLUSIONS: Diffusional kurtosis imaging of the spinal cord can provide a more comprehensive characterization of lesions and normal-appearing WM and gray matter damage in patients with MS. Diffusional kurtosis imaging can provide additional and complementary information to DTI on spinal cord pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1846-1852
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


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