In the second study from Duke University Medical Center, tensor
diffusion MRI showed abnormalities around MS plaques seen on conventional
MRI, suggesting more accurate assessment of disease burden.
"Tensor diffusion imaging is a form of MR imaging that [measures] the rate
and direction of water particles in the white matter structures of the
brain," says lead author James Provenzale, MD. "Tensor imaging is allowing
us to more accurately detect abnormalities in MS patients, which may allow
us to diagnose the disease before the patient has any symptoms; early
detection can mean earlier treatment."
Standard MR images do not necessarily correlate well with the patient's
actual condition, Provenzale says, because the images may be normal until
the patient has advanced disease. Tensor diffusion MRI shows abnormalities
that are more extensive and in different regions.
Provenzale predicts that tensor diffusion MRI will eventually help detect
degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, in the earliest
stages when treatment is most effective. Currently, his group uses it in
Krabbe's disease with good results.
"If we scan patients at risk for the disease within the first month of
life, and begin treatment immediately, their brains remain more similar to
those of normal children than those infants treated later," he says.
AARS Annual Meeting. April 29-30, 2002.