Serial isotropic three-dimensional fast FLAIR imaging: Using image registration and subtraction to reveal active multiple sclerosis lesions

I. Leng Tan, Ronald A. Van Schijndel, Petra J.W. Pouwels, Herman J. Adèr, Frederik Barkhof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE. Image registration and subtraction to detect the change of disease burden in multiple sclerosis on serial MR images should benefit from the use of high-resolution isotropic voxels. We compared 1.2-mm isotropic three-dimensional (3D) fast fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images with standard 3-mm two-dimensional spin-echo images for the detection of new or enlarging lesions in longitudinal studies. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Serial MR images were obtained at baseline, month 6 (n = 20), and month 7 (n = 16). For the half-yearly intervals, subtracted 3D FLAIR images and T2-weighted spin-echo images were compared. For the monthly intervals, subtracted 3D FLAIR images were compared with triple-dose contrast-enhanced T1-weighted spin-echo images. New, enlarging, and enhancing lesions were marked in consensus by two radiologists. RESULTS. At the half-yearly intervals, 3D FLAIR imaging detected more new or enlarging lesions than T2-weighted spin-echo imaging, both at the initial interpretation (80 vs 52; p < 0.001) and after a side-by-side comparison of the lesions (88 vs 65; p < 0.001). Post hoc analyses showed the largest benefit for new (rather than enlarging), for small, and for temporal lesions. At the monthly intervals, 32 enhancing lesions were detected on contrast-enhanced T1-weighted spin-echo images versus 20 new or enlarging lesions detected on 3D FLAIR images (p < 0.05). After a side-by-side comparison of the lesions, seven additional lesions were identified on 3D FLAIR images, making the difference with contrast-enhanced T1-weighted spin-echo images insignificant (27 vs 32; p > 0.05). CONCLUSION. Isotropic 3D FLAIR imaging holds great promise for the detection of new or enlarging lesions in multiple sclerosis using registration and subtraction techniques certainly at longer intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-782
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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