FLAIR*: a combined MR contrast technique for visualizing white matter lesions and parenchymal veins.
ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: To evaluate a magnetic resonance (MR) imaging contrast technique, called FLAIR*, that combines the advantages of T2-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) contrast and T2*-weighted contrast on a single image for assessment of white matter (WM) diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). MATERIALS AND METHODS: This prospective pilot study was HIPAA compliant and institutional review board approved. Ten patients with clinically definite MS (eight men, two women; mean age, 41 years) provided informed consent and underwent 3.0-T MR imaging. Images from a T2-weighted FLAIR sequence were combined with images from a T2*-weighted segmented echo-planar imaging sequence performed during contrast material injection, yielding high-isotropic-resolution (0.55 × 0.55 × 0.55 mm(3)) FLAIR* images. Qualitative assessment was performed for image quality, lesion conspicuity, and vein conspicuity. Contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) was calculated to compare normal-appearing WM (NAWM) with cerebrospinal fluid, lesions, and veins. To evaluate the differences in CNR among imaging modalities, a bootstrap procedure clustered on subjects was used, together with paired t tests. RESULTS: High-quality FLAIR* images of the brain were produced at 3.0 T, yielding conspicuous lesions and veins. Lesion-to-NAWM and NAWM-to-vein CNR values were significantly higher for FLAIR* images than for T2-weighted FLAIR images (P < .0001). Findings on FLAIR* images included intralesional veins for lesions located throughout the brain and a hypointense rim around some WM lesions. CONCLUSION: High-isotropic-resolution FLAIR* images obtained at 3.0 T yield high contrast for WM lesions and parenchymal veins, making it well suited to investigate the relationship between WM abnormalities and veins in a clinical setting.
Project description:Conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods do not quantify the severity of multiple sclerosis (MS) white matter lesions or measure pathology within normal-appearing white matter (NAWM).Gradient Echo Plural Contrast Imaging (GEPCI), a fast MRI technique producing inherently co-registered images for qualitative and quantitative assessment of MS, was used to 1) correlate with disability; 2) distinguish clinical MS subtypes; 3) determine prevalence of veins co-localized within lesions in WM.Thirty subjects representing relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS) subtypes were scanned with clinical and GEPCI protocols. Standard measures of physical disability and cognition were correlated with magnetic resonance metrics. Lesions with central veins were counted for RRMS subjects.Tissue damage load (TDL-GEPCI) and lesion load (LL-GEPCI) derived with GEPCI correlated better with MS functional composite (MSFC) measures and most other neurologic measures than lesion load derived with FLAIR (LL-FLAIR). GEPCI correctly classified clinical subtypes in 70% subjects. A central vein could be identified in 76% of WM lesions in RRMS subjects on GEPCI T2*-SWI images.GEPCI lesion metrics correlated better with neurologic disability than lesion load derived using FLAIR imaging, and showed promise in classifying clinical subtypes of MS. These improvements are likely attributable to the ability of GEPCI to quantify tissue damage.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To evaluate clinical fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR)* 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is sensitive to perivenular inflammatory demyelinating lesions, in diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS). BACKGROUND:Central veins may be a distinguishing feature of MS lesions. FLAIR*, a combined contrast derived from clinical MRI scans, has not been studied as a clinical tool for diagnosing MS. METHODS:Two experienced MS neurologists evaluated 87 scan pairs (T2-FLAIR/FLAIR*), separately and side-by-side, from 68 MS cases, 8 healthy volunteers, and 11 individuals with other neurological diseases. Raters judged cases based on experience, published criteria, and a visual assessment of the "40% rule," whereby MS is favored if >40% of lesions demonstrate a central vein. Diagnostic accuracy was determined with area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), and inter-rater reliability was assessed with Cohen's kappa (?). RESULTS:Diagnostic accuracy was high: rater 1, AUC 0.94 (95% confidence interval: 0.89, 0.97) for T2-FLAIR, 0.95 (0.92, 0.98) for FLAIR*; rater 2, 0.94 (0.90, 0.98) and 0.90 (0.85, 0.95). AUC improved when images were considered together: rater 1, 0.99 (0.98, 1.00); rater 2, 0.98 (0.96, 0.99). Inter-rater agreement was substantial for T2-FLAIR (??=?0.68) and FLAIR* (??=?0.74), despite low agreement on the 40% rule (??=?0.47) ([Formula: see text] in all cases). CONCLUSIONS:Joint clinical evaluation of T2-FLAIR and FLAIR* images modestly improves diagnostic accuracy for MS and does not require counting lesions with central veins.
Project description:White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) associate with both cognitive slowing and motor dysfunction in the neurologically normal elderly. A full understanding of the pathology underlying this clinicoradiologic finding is currently lacking in autopsy-confirmed normal brains. To determine the histopathologic basis of WMH seen on magnetic resonance imaging, we studied the relationship between postmortem fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) intensity and neuropathologic markers of WM lesions (WMLs) that correspond to WMH in cognitively normal aging brains. Samples of periventricular (n = 24), subcortical (n = 26), and normal-appearing WM (NAWM, n = 31) from 4clinically and pathologically confirmed normal cases were examined. The FLAIR intensity, vacuolation, and myelin basic protein immunoreactivity loss were significantly higher in periventricular WML versus subcortical WML; both were higher than in NAWM. The subcortical WML and NAWM had significantly less axonal loss, astrocytic burden, microglial density, and oligodendrocyte loss than those of the periventricular WML. Thus, vacuolation, myelin density, and small vessel density contribute to the rarefaction of WM, whereas axonal density, oligodendrocyte density, astroglial burden, and microglial density did not. These data suggest that the age-related loss of myelin basic protein and the decrease in small vessel density may contribute to vacuolation of WM. Vacuolation enables interstitial fluid to accumulate, which contributes to the prolonged T2 relaxation and elevated FLAIR intensity in the WM.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:White matter lesions are 1 age-related manifestation of cerebrovascular disease, but subthreshold abnormalities have been identified in nonlesional WM. We hypothesized that structural and physiologic MR imaging findings of early cerebrovascular disease can be measured in middle-aged subjects in tissue adjacent to WM lesions, termed "penumbra." MATERIALS AND METHODS:WM lesions were defined using automated segmentation in 463 subjects, 43-56 years of age, from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) longitudinal observational cohort study. We described 0- to 2-mm and 2- to 4-mm-thick spatially defined penumbral WM tissue ROIs as rings surrounding WM lesions. The remaining WM was defined as distant normal-appearing WM. Mean signal intensities were measured for FLAIR, T1-, and T2-weighted images, and from fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, CBF, and vascular reactivity maps. Group comparisons were made using Kruskal-Wallis and pair-wise t tests. RESULTS:Lesion volumes averaged 0.738 ± 0.842 cm3 (range, 0.005-7.27 cm3). Mean signal intensity for FLAIR, T2, and mean diffusivity was increased, while T1, fractional anisotropy, and CBF were decreased in white matter lesions versus distant normal-appearing WM, with penumbral tissues showing graded intermediate values (corrected P < .001 for all group/parameter comparisons). Vascular reactivity was significantly elevated in white matter lesions and penumbral tissue compared with distant normal-appearing white matter (corrected P ? .001). CONCLUSIONS:Even in relatively healthy 43- to 56-year-old subjects with small white matter lesion burden, structural and functional MR imaging in penumbral tissue reveals significant signal abnormalities versus white matter lesions and other normal WM. Findings suggest that the onset of WM injury starts by middle age and involves substantially more tissue than evident from focal white matter lesions visualized on structural imaging.
Project description:The aim of this study was to optimize the 3-dimensional (3D) fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) pulse sequence for isotropic high-spatial-resolution imaging of white matter (WM) and cortical lesions at 7 T.We added a magnetization-prepared (MP) FLAIR module to a Cube 3D fast spin echo sequence and optimized the refocusing flip angle train using extended phase graph simulations, taking into account image contrast, specific absorption rate (SAR), and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) as well as T1/T2 values of the different species of interest (WM, grey matter, lesions) at 7 T. We also effected improved preparation homogeneity at 7 T by redesigning the refocusing pulse used in the MP segments. Two sets of refocusing flip angle trains-(a) an SNR-optimal and (b) a contrast-optimal set-were derived and used to scan 7 patients with Alzheimer disease/cognitive impairment and 7 patients with multiple sclerosis. Conventional constant refocusing flip MP-FLAIR images were also acquired for comparison. Lesion SNR, contrast, and lesion count were compared between the 2 optimized and the standard FLAIR sequences.Whole brain coverage with 0.8 mm isotropic spatial resolution in ?5-minute scan times was achieved using the optimized 3D FLAIR sequences at clinically acceptable SAR levels. The SNR efficiency of the SNR-optimal sequence was significantly better than that of conventional constant refocusing flip MP-FLAIR sequence, whereas the scan time was reduced more than 2-fold (?5 vs >10 minutes). The contrast efficiency of the contrast-optimal sequence was comparable with that of the constant refocusing flip sequence. Lesion load ascertained by lesion counting was not significantly different among the sequences.Magnetization-prepared FLAIR-Cube with refocusing flip angle trains optimized for SNR and contrast can be used to characterize WM and cortical lesions at 7 T with 0.8 mm isotropic resolution in short scan times and without SAR penalty.
Project description:Cortical thickness is traditionally derived from T1-weighted MRI images. Recent studies have shown an improvement in segmentation with the combination of T1?+?T2-FLAIR images. MRI data from 54 adults (mean: 71 years, 65-81 years, 48% females) that are part of an ongoing cohort study were analyzed to investigate whether T1?+?T2-FLAIR cortical thickness measurements were superior to those derived from T1-weighted images in identifying age-related atrophy. T1-weighted and T2-FLAIR MRI images were processed through FreeSurfer v6.0. Data was extracted using the Desikan-Killiany (DKT) atlas. FreeSurfer's GUI QDEC examined age-related atrophy. Nonparametric tests, effect sizes, and Pearson correlations examined differences between T1-only and T1?+?T2-FLAIR cortical thickness data. These analyses demonstrated that T1?+?T2-FLAIR processed images significantly improved the segmentation of gray matter (chi-square x2, p?<?0.05) and demonstrated significantly thicker cortical thickness means (p?<?0.05) with medium to large effect sizes. Significant regions of age-related cortical atrophy were identified within the T1?+?T2-FLAIR data (FDR corrected, p?<?0.05). This is in contrast to the T1-only data where no regions survived FDR correction. In summary, T1?+?T2-FLAIR data were associated with significant improvement in cortical segmentation and the identification of age-related cortical atrophy. Future studies should consider employing this imaging strategy to obtain cortical thickness measurements sensitive to age-related changes.
Project description:In subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS), pathology is more frequent near the inner and outer surfaces of the brain. Here, we sought to explore if in subjects with primary progressive MS (PPMS) cortical lesion load is selectively associated with the severity of periventricular normal appearing white matter (NAWM) damage, as assessed with diffusion weighted imaging. To this aim, twenty-four subjects with PPMS and twenty healthy controls were included in the study. Using diffusion data, skeletonized mean diffusivity (MD) NAWM maps were computed excluding WM lesions and a 2 mm-thick peri-lesional rim. The supra-tentorial voxels between 2 and 6 mm of distance from the lateral ventricles were included in the periventricular NAWM mask while the voxels between 6 and 10 mm from the lateral ventricles were included in the deep NAWM mask; mean MD values were then computed separately for these two masks. Lastly, cortical lesions were assessed on phase-sensitive inversion recovery (PSIR) images and cortical thickness was quantified on volumetric T1 images. Our main result was the observation in the PPMS group of a significant correlation between periventricular NAWM MD values and cortical lesion load, with a greater cortical lesion burden being associated with more abnormal periventricular NAWM MD. Conversely, there was no correlation between cortical lesion load and deep NAWM MD values or periventricular WM lesions. Our data thus suggest that a common - and relatively selective - factor plays a role in the development of both cortical lesion and periventricular NAWM abnormalities in PPMS.
Project description:Major hardware/software changes to MRI platforms, either planned or unplanned, will almost invariably occur in longitudinal studies. Our objective was to assess the resulting variability on relevant imaging measurements in such context, specifically for three Siemens Healthcare Magnetom Trio upgrades to the Prismafit platform. We report data acquired on three healthy volunteers scanned before and after three different platform upgrades. We assessed differences in image signal [contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR)] on T1-weighted images (T1w) and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images (FLAIR); brain morphometry on T1w image; and small vessel disease (white matter hyperintensities; WMH) on FLAIR image. Prismafit upgrade resulted in higher (30%) and more variable neocortical CNR and larger brain volume and thickness mainly in frontal areas. A significant relationship was observed between neocortical CNR and neocortical volume. For FLAIR images, no significant CNR difference was observed, but WMH volumes were significantly smaller (-68%) after Prismafit upgrade, when compared to results on the Magnetom Trio. Together, these results indicate that Prismafit upgrade significantly influenced image signal, brain morphometry measures and small vessel diseases measures and that these effects need to be taken into account when analyzing results from any longitudinal study undergoing similar changes.
Project description:Disruption of the BBB in MS is associated with the development of new lesions and clinical relapses and signifies the presence of active inflammation. It is most commonly detected as enhancement on MR imaging performed with contrast agents that are costly and occasionally toxic. We investigated whether the BBB status in white matter lesions may be indirectly ascertained via examination of features on T1- and T2-weighted images obtained before the injection of a contrast agent.We considered 93 brain MR imaging studies on 16 patients that included T1-, T2-, and T2-weighted FLAIR images and predicted voxel wise enhancement after intravenous injection of a gadolinium chelate. We then used these voxel-level predictions to determine the presence or absence of abnormal enhancement anywhere in the brain.On a voxel-by-voxel basis, enhancement can be predicted by using contrast-free measures with an AUC of 0.83 (95% CI, 0.80-0.87). At the whole-brain level, enhancement can be predicted with an AUC of 0.72 (95% CI, 0.62-0.82).In many cases, breakdown of the BBB in acute MS lesions may be inferred without the need to inject an MR imaging contrast agent. The inference relies on intrinsic properties of tissue damage in acute lesions. Although contrast studies are more accurate, they may sometimes be unnecessary.
Project description:The study was undertaken to determine the pathologic basis of subtle abnormalities in magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters observed in normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) in multiple sclerosis brains.Brain tissues were obtained through a rapid postmortem protocol that included in situ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Four types of MRI-defined regions of interest (ROIs) were analyzed: (1) regions that were abnormal on all images (T2T1MTR lesions); (2) NAWM regions with slightly abnormal MTR located close to white matter lesions (sa-WM Close); (3) NAWM regions with slightly abnormal MTR located far from lesions (sa-WM Far); and (4) NAWM regions with normal MTR (NAWM). Immunohistochemical analysis for each ROI comprised immunostaining for myelin, axonal markers, activated microglia/macrophages, astrocytes, plasma proteins, and blood vessels.Forty-eight ROIs from 4 secondary progressive MS brains were analyzed. sa-WM Close ROIs were associated with significantly more axonal swellings. There were more enlarged major histocompatibility complex II(+) microglia and macrophages detected in sa-WM Far, sa-WM Close, and T2T1MTR lesions than in NAWM. Across all ROIs, MTR and DTI measures were moderately correlated with myelin density, axonal area, and axonal counts. Excluding T2T1MTR lesions from analysis revealed that MTR and DTI measures in nonlesional white matter (WM) were correlated with activated microglia, but not with axonal or myelin integrity.The pathologic substrates for MRI abnormalities in NAWM vary based on distance from focal WM lesions. Close to WM lesions, axonal pathology and microglial activation may explain subtle MRI changes. Distant from lesions, microglial activation associated with proximity to cortical lesions might underlie MRI abnormalities.