• Approaching MS Diagnosis with a new MRI Technique

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Approaching MS Diagnosis with a new MRI Technique

Jan 24 2022

MedUni Vienna researchers studying the  progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the central nervous system that manifests itself in changes (lesions) primarily in the brain, have been using a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique to detect the changes at an earlier microscopic or biochemical stage for improved diagnosis.

Using proton MR spectroscopy a group led by Eva Niess and Wolfgang Bogner from MedUni Vienna's Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image-guided Therapy, working with scientists from the department of Neurology, used MR spectroscopy with a 7-tesla magnet to compare the neurochemical changes in the brains of 65 MS patients with those of 20 healthy controls. This particularly powerful imaging tool, co-developed at the University has been used for scientific studies, eg of the brain, at its Center of Excellence for High-Field MR since it was commissioned in 2008.

Using the 7-tesla MRI the researchers have now been able to identify MS-relevant neurochemicals, i.e. chemicals involved in the function of the nervous system. "This allowed us to visualise brain changes in regions that appear normal on conventional MRI scans," says study leader Wolfgang Bogner, pointing to one of the study's main findings. According to the study's lead author, Eva Niess, these findings could play a significant role in the care of MS patients in the future: "Some neurochemical changes that we've been able to visualise with the new technique occur early in the course of the disease and might not only correlate with disability but also predict further disease progression."

While more research is needed before these findings can be incorporated into clinical applications, Niess and Bogner commented that the results already show 7-tesla spectroscopic MR imaging to be a valuable new tool in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and in the treatment of MS patients.

"If the results are confirmed in further studies, this new neuroimaging technique could become a standard imaging tool for initial diagnosis and for monitoring disease activity and treatment in MS patients," says Wolfgang Bogner, looking to the future. The method is currently only available on the only 7-Tesla MRI scanner in Austria at MedUni Vienna and only for research purposes. However, the scientific team led by Eva Niess and Wolfgang Bogner is working on refining the new method for use in routine clinical MRI scanners.

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