Diminished visibility of cerebral venous vasculature in multiple sclerosis by susceptibility-weighted imaging at 3.0 Tesla



Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by widespread demyelination, axonal loss and gliosis, and neurodegeneration; susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI), through the use of phase information to enhance local susceptibility or T2* contrast, is a relatively new and simple MRI application that can directly image cerebral veins by exploiting venous blood oxygenation. Here, we use high-field SWI at 3.0 Tesla to image 15 patients with clinically definite relapsing-remitting MS and to assess cerebral venous oxygen level changes. We demonstrate significantly reduced visibility of periventricular white matter venous vasculature in patients as compared to control subjects, supporting the concept of a widespread hypometabolic MS disease process. SWI may afford a noninvasive and relatively simple method to assess venous oxygen saturation so as to closely monitor disease severity, progression, and response to therapy. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2009;29:1190–1194. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.