Magnetic resonance imaging correlates of physical disability in relapse onset multiple sclerosis of long disease duration

This collaborative study looked at determining the relationship of brain lesion load and brain and spinal cord atrophy, with physical disability in patients with a long duration of MS. Parameters that the researchers looked at on MRI included brain grey matter fraction (GMF), white matter fractional (WMF) volumes, upper cervical spinal cord cross-sectional area (UCCA) and brain T2-lesion volume (T2LV). 

The researchers used two regression models (dividing cohort by EDSS into two and four sub-groups) to analyse the association between EDSS and MRI measures. In the binary model they found that UCCA and T2LV were independently associated with the requirement of a walking aid, while in the four category model UCCA, T2LV and GMF were independently associated with disability. 

This study demonstrated that long-term physical disability was independently linked with atrophy of the spinal cord and brain T2 lesion load, and less with grey matter atrophy. In order to capture clinically-relevant information in people with MS with long disease duration, both spinal cord and brain MRI measure may be required.

Authors: Kearney H, Rocca M

Source: Mult Scler. 2013 Jun 27. [Epub ahead of print]

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