MRI aspects of the “inflammatory phase” of multiple sclerosis
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In early relapsing-remitting (RR) multiple sclerosis (MS), conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has proved to be a valuable tool to assess disease activity over time. However, conventional MRI can only provide gross estimates of irreversible tissue damage within and outside such lesions. Other MR-based techniques, including magnetization transfer MRI, diffusion-weighted MRI, proton MR spectroscopy and functional MRI, have the potential to provide additional pieces of information about the nature and the extent of MS tissue damage since the early “inflammatory phase” of the disease. The application of these MR techniques to the study of early RRMS is likely to improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of MS and our ability to assess the efficacy of experimental treatments.