Imaging the Spinal Cord

Bag AK, Patel BN, Osman S, Roberson GH. Clinico-radiologic profile of spinal cord multiple sclerosis in adults. Neuroradiol J. 2011;24(4):511-8.

MRI is extremely useful for the assessment of initial disease burden and to identify the dissemination of the multiple sclerosis (MS) in time and space. The spinal cord is frequently involved in this disease and there has been increasing emphasis of the spinal imaging in making clinical decision in the management of MS. 

We undertook a retrospective study of patients with diagnosed MS: 1) to identify radiologic pattern of spinal cord involvement in MS and 2) to correlate radiologic findings with clinical presentation. 

We reviewed radiologic records from 2004 to 2009 of patients with abnormal T2 signal intensity of the spinal cord with radiologic concern of demyelinating disease. Patients in this cohort who met the Revised McDonald MS Diagnostic Criteria (search blog for details) were included in this study. 166 patients were included in the study. There was preference for cervical spinal cord particularly posterior (back bit) aspect of the spinal cord. Enhancement of the lesions was rare (4.1%). Mean lesion length was 18.2 mm. The average number of lesions per patient was 2.04. 
Sensory (feelings) symptoms were predominating and most of the patients had relapsing-remitting course. Patients with sensory symptoms, bladder and bowel involvement and motor (movement) symptoms had almost equally distributed lesions among anterior (front bit), posterior and central spinal cord. However, all of the patients presented with posterior column signs and gait abnormality had involvement of the posterior spinal cord. Radiologic manifestation of spinal cord MS is extremely variable and can involve the entire length of the spinal cord. Clinical symptoms may or may not be associated with radiologic presentation of the lesions.
Maybe MRI can’t spot spinal cord lesions but they are very important in mobility. Dr.Klaus would agree that lesions are concentrated in the cervical spinal cord. 

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