The volume of atrophied (shrunken) regions in the brain, as visible through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, can predict disease progression in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), new research reveals.
The finding was published in the journal Radiology in an article titled, “Atrophied Brain T2 Lesion Volume at MRI Is Associated with Disability Progression and Conversion to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.”
Being able to predict if — and how — MS will progress is an ongoing clinical challenge. Although MRI scans to analyze the brains of people with MS are routinely used, it remains unclear which aspects of these scans hold the most valuable prognostic information.
In the new study, researchers examined atrophied T2 lesion volume as one such prognostic indicator. This measure is the amount of brain space that had been a T2 lesion, but where the brain matter has atrophied and been replaced by fluid.
“Atrophied lesion volume can be measured with a pair of simple MRI scans,” Robert Zivadinov, MD, the study’s senior author, said in a press release. Zivadinov is a professor of neurology at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, .
“What has not been done yet is to test how visual or qualitative assessment compares to quantitative assessment,” Zivadinov added.
To find out, the researchers examined patient records for 1,314 people with MS (76.4% female, mean age 46), as well as 124 people with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS; 80.6% female, mean age 39), and 147 healthy individuals to serve as controls (66% female, mean age 42).
In total, 336 of 1,314 (23%) of participants experienced a progression in disability, and in 67 of 1,213 (5.5%) of participants, the disease converted from CIS or relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) to secondary progressive MS (SPMS).
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