Fast Five Quiz: Brain and Spine Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis

Christopher Luzzio, MD


April 08, 2020

Figure 2. This color-enhanced sagittal MRI of the cervical spine demonstrates multiple areas of signal abnormality in the cervical spinal cord and in the medulla consistent with areas of demyelination in this person with MS. The demyelinating lesions are yellow. The cerebellum is purple.

The spinal cord MRI protocol includes STIR or phase-sensitive inversion recovery, which reveals spinal cord lesions with greater sensitivity than FLAIR imaging. The spinal cord imaging protocol for MS should include sagittal T1-weighted and proton attenuation/density, STIR or phase-sensitive inversion recovery, axial T2 or T2*-weighted images, and sometimes, postcontrast gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted imaging. MRI is used to diagnose and monitor MS.

FLAIR imaging is more sensitive for MS lesions in brain MRI, but it is not sensitive in the spine.

CT scan and Doppler imaging are not the imaging modalities of choice for MS.

Learn more about MRI in confirming MS and monitoring disease progression in the brain and spinal cord.


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