AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2003 Apr;24(4):663-70
Castriota-Scanderbeg A, Fasano F, Hagberg G, Nocentini U, Filippi M, Caltagirone C.
Department of Radiology, Scientific Institute Fondazione S. Lucia, Rome, Italy.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Persistently hypointense lesions on T1-weighted MR images have been shown to correlate with the amount of axonal damage and clinical disability in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether diffusion coefficient D(av) and fractional anisotropy (FA) are able to detect quantifiable differences among three groups of focal nonactive multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions that appear qualitatively different on T1-weighted images.
Conventional and diffusion tensor MR images of the brain were obtained in 18 patients with relapsing remitting (n = 10) or secondary progressive (n=8) MS and in 18 healthy volunteers.
Focal nonactive MS lesions were classified as T1 isointense, T1 mildly hypointense, and T1 severely hypointense on unenhanced T1-weighted images.
Differences among groups were assessed with one-way analysis of variance using the T1 lesion appearance as the grouping factor and either FA or coefficient D(av) as the dependent measure.
FA was lowest and coefficient D(av) was highest in T1 severely hypointense lesions, and then, in ascending and descending order, respectively, T1 mildly hypointense lesions and T1 isointense lesions.
A significant difference in the values of FA was detected only between T1 isointense lesions and T1 severely hypointense lesions (P <.01), whereas no difference was found between T1 mildly hypointense lesions and either one of these two groups.
A significant difference was found in the values of coefficient D(av) among all investigated lesion groups.
Coefficient D(av) was found to correlate inversely with the T1-weighted contrast ratio (r=-0.58, P <.0001), whereas FA and deltaFA (percentage of FA variation in the lesion, a relative FA measure that minimizes the effect of FA spatial dependence) were not.
Coefficient D(av) is more sensitive than FA to variations in the degree of T1 hypointensity and, thus, in the amount of the permanent brain tissue damage in patients with MS.