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Mult Scler. 2011 Nov;17(11):1313-23. doi: 10.1177/1352458511415305. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Focal multiple sclerosis lesions abound in 'normal appearing white matter'.

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Division of Clinical Neurology, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, UK.



The 'normal appearing white matter' (NAWM) in multiple sclerosis (MS) is known to be abnormal using quantitative magnetic resonance (MR) techniques. The aetiology of the changes in NAWM remains debatable.


To investigate whether high-field and ultra high-field T(1)-weighted magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo (MPRAGE) MRI enables detection of MS white matter lesions in areas defined as NAWM using high-field T(2)-weighted fluid attenuation inversion recovery (FLAIR) MRI; that is, to ascertain whether undetected lesions are likely contributors to the burden of abnormality in similarly defined NAWM.


Fourteen MS patients underwent MRI scans using 3T FLAIR and MPRAGE and 7‚ÄČTesla (7T) MPRAGE sequences. Independent observers identified lesions on 3T FLAIR and (7T and 3T) MPRAGE images. The detection of every individual lesion was then compared for each image type.


We identified a total of 812 white matter lesions on 3T FLAIR. Using 3T MPRAGE, 186 additional lesions were detected that were not detected using 3T FLAIR. Using 7T MPRAGE, 231 additional lesions were detected that were not detected using 3T FLAIR.


MRI with 3T and 7T MPRAGE enables detection of MS lesions in areas defined as NAWM using 3T FLAIR. Focal MS lesions contribute to the abnormalities known to exist in the NAWM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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