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Magn Reson Med. 2004 Jun;51(6):1122-8.

Quantitative proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the cervical spinal cord.

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MRC Biochemical and Clinical Magnetic Resonance Unit, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Proton MR spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) provides indices of neuronal damage in the central nervous system (CNS); however, it has not been extensively applied in the spinal cord. This work describes an optimized proton spectroscopy protocol for examination of the human cervical spinal cord. B(0) field mapping of the cord revealed periodic inhomogeneities due to susceptibility differences with surrounding tissue. By combining field maps and experimental data, we found that the optimum voxel size was 9 x 7 x 35 mm(3) placed with the inferior end of the voxel above vertebral body C2. Metabolite concentrations were determined in the cervical cord in six healthy controls by short-echo point-resolved spectroscopy (PRESS) volume localization. The results were compared with metabolite concentrations in the brainstem, cerebellum, and cortex in the same individuals. The concentrations in the cervical cord were as follows: N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) 17.3 +/- 0.5, creatine (Cr) 9.5 +/- 0.9, and choline 2.7 +/- 0.5 mmol/l. The NAA concentration was significantly lower in the cord than in the brainstem (Mann-Whitney, P < 0.025), and higher than in the cortex (P < 0.005) and cerebellum (P < 0.005). Cr was significantly lower in the cord than in the cerebellum (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences between Cr concentrations in the spinal cord compared to the cortex and brainstem.

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