MRI evaluation of thalamic volume differentiates MS from common mimics

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine whether MRI evaluation of thalamic volume differentiates MS from other disorders that cause MRI white matter abnormalities.

Methods:

There were 40 study participants: 10 participants with MS without additional comorbidities for white matter abnormalities (MS − c); 10 participants with MS with additional comorbidities for white matter abnormalities (MS + c); 10 participants with migraine, MRI white matter abnormalities, and no additional comorbidities for white matter abnormalities (Mig − c); and 10 participants previously incorrectly diagnosed with MS (Misdx). T1-magnetization-prepared rapid gradient-echo and T2-weighted three-dimensional fluid attenuation inversion recovery sequences were acquired on a Phillips Achieva d-Stream 3T MRI, and scans were randomly ordered and de-identified for a blinded reviewer who performed MRI segmentation using LesionTOADS.

Results:

Mean normalized thalamic volume differed among the 4 cohorts (analysis of variance, p = 0.005) and was smaller in the 20 MS participants compared with the 20 non-MS participants (p < 0.001), smaller in MS − c compared with Mig − c (p = 0.03), and smaller in MS + c compared with Misdx (p = 0.006). The sensitivity and specificity were both 0.75 for diagnosis of MS with a thalamic volume <0.0077.

Conclusions:

MRI volumetric evaluation of the thalamus, but not other deep gray-matter structures, differentiated MS from other diseases that cause white matter abnormalities and are often mistaken for MS. Evaluation for thalamic atrophy may improve accuracy for diagnosis of MS as an adjunct to additional radiologic criteria. Thalamic volumetric assessment by MRI in larger cohorts of patients undergoing evaluation for MS is needed, along with the development of automated and easily applied volumetric assessment tools for future clinical application.

Classification of evidence:

This study provides Class III evidence that MRI evaluation of thalamic volume differentiates MS from other diseases that cause white matter abnormalities.

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