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Keywords:

  • diffusion-weighted imaging;
  • disability;
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy;
  • magnetization transfer imaging;
  • multiple sclerosis

In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has markedly improved our ability to detect the macroscopic abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. New quantitative magnetic resonance (MR) approaches with increased sensitivity to subtle normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) and grey matter changes and increased specificity to the heterogeneous pathological substrates of MS may give information complementary to conventional MRI. Magnetization transfer imaging (MTI) and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) have the potential to provide important information on the structural changes occurring within and outside T2-visible lesions. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) adds information on the biochemical nature of such changes. Functional MRI might quantify the efficiency of brain plasticity in response to MS injury and improve our understanding of the link between structural damage and clinical manifestations. The present review summarizes how the application of these MR techniques to the study of MS is dramatically changing our understanding of how MS causes irreversible neurological deficits.