MRI in multiple sclerosis: current status and future prospects

Rohit Bakshi, Alan J. Thompson, Maria A. Rocca, Daniel Pelletier, Vincent Dousset, Frederik Barkhof, Matilde Inglese, Charles RG Guttmann, Mark A. Horsfield, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

269 Scopus citations


Many promising MRI approaches for research or clinical management of multiple sclerosis (MS) have recently emerged, or are under development or refinement. Advanced MRI methods need to be assessed to determine whether they allow earlier diagnosis or better identification of phenotypes. Improved post-processing should allow more efficient and complete extraction of information from images. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy should improve in sensitivity and specificity with higher field strengths and should enable the detection of a wider array of metabolites. Diffusion imaging is moving closer to the goal of defining structural connectivity and, thereby, determining the functional significance of lesions at specific locations. Cell-specific imaging now seems feasible with new magnetic resonance contrast agents. The imaging of myelin water fraction brings the hope of providing a specific measure of myelin content. Ultra-high-field MRI increases sensitivity, but also presents new technical challenges. Here, we review these recent developments in MRI for MS, and also look forward to refinements in spinal-cord imaging, optic-nerve imaging, perfusion MRI, and functional MRI. Advances in MRI should improve our ability to diagnose, monitor, and understand the pathophysiology of MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-625
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet Neurology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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