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Nat Rev Neurol. 2015 Dec;11(12):676-86. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2015.194. Epub 2015 Nov 3.

Nonconventional MRI and microstructural cerebral changes in multiple sclerosis.

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Division of Neuroradiology, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 22, 8036 Graz, Austria.
Department of Neurology, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 22, 8036 Graz, Austria.
VU University MS Center Amsterdam, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine and Department of Physics &Medical Technology, VU University Medical Center, Netherlands.
NMR Research Unit, Queen Square MS Centre, University College London Institute of Neurology, UK.
Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Italy.
Department of Neurology, University of Basel, Switzerland.
Magnetic Resonance Unit, Cemcat, Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Neurological and Behavioural Sciences, University of Siena, Italy.
Medical Image Analysis Center, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.


MRI has become the most important paraclinical tool for diagnosing and monitoring patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, conventional MRI sequences are largely nonspecific in the pathology they reveal, and only provide a limited view of the complex morphological changes associated with MS. Nonconventional MRI techniques, such as magnetization transfer imaging (MTI), diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) promise to complement existing techniques by revealing more-specific information on microstructural tissue changes. Past years have witnessed dramatic advances in the acquisition and analysis of such imaging data, and numerous studies have used these tools to probe tissue alterations associated with MS. Other MRI-based techniques-such as myelin-water imaging, (23)Na imaging, magnetic resonance elastography and magnetic resonance perfusion imaging-might also shed new light on disease-associated changes. This Review summarizes the rapid technical progress in the use of MRI in patients with MS, with a focus on nonconventional structural MRI. We critically discuss the present utility of nonconventional MRI in MS, and provide an outlook on future applications, including clinical practice. This information should allow appropriate selection of advanced MRI techniques, and facilitate their use in future studies of this disease.

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