RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Spinal cord lesions and clinical status in multiple sclerosis: A 1.5 T and 3 T MRI study.

OBJECTIVE: Assess the relationship between spinal cord T2 hyperintense lesions and clinical status in multiple sclerosis (MS) with 1.5 and 3 T MRI.

METHODS: Whole cord T2-weighted fast spin-echo MRI was performed in 32 MS patients [Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score (mean+/-SD: 2+/-1.9), range 0-6.5]. Protocols at 1.5 T and 3 T were optimized and matched on voxel size.

RESULTS: Moderate correlations were found between whole cord lesion volume and EDSS score at 1.5 T (r(s)=.36, p=0.04), but not at 3 T (r(s)=0.13, p=0.46). Pyramidal Functional System Score (FSS) correlated with thoracic T2 lesion number (r(s)=.46, p=0.01) and total spinal cord lesion number (r(s)=0.37, p=0.04) and volume (r(s)=0.37, p=0.04) at 1.5 T. Bowel/bladder FSS correlated with T2 lesion volume and number in the cervical, thoracic, and total spine at 1.5 T (r(s) 0.40-0.57, all p<0.05). These MRI-FSS correlations were non-significant at 3 T. However, these correlation coefficients did not differ significantly between platforms (Choi's test p>0.05). Correlations between whole cord lesion volume and timed 25-foot walk were non-significant at 1.5 T and 3 T (p>0.05). Lesion number and volume did not differ between MRI platforms in the MS group (p>0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the use of higher field MRI strength, the link between spinal lesions and MS disability remains weak. The 1.5 T and 3 T protocols yielded similar results for many comparisons.

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