Sagittal MR of multiple sclerosis in the spinal cord: fast versus conventional spin-echo imaging

G J Lycklama à Nijeholt, J A Castelijns, J Weerts, H Adèr, J H van Waesberghe, C Polman, F Barkhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PURPOSE: We compared conventional spin-echo (CSE) with fast spin-echo (FSE) dual-echo MR images to determine which of these sequences was better able to depict spinal cord abnormalities in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

METHODS: CSE and FSE dual-echo MR images were obtained in 37 patients with MS and in six healthy control subjects, all of whom were examined on a 1.0-T MR unit with a phased-array coil and cardiac triggering. Two blinded interpreters graded the MR studies, first separately and then by consensus. Images were scored for presence of artifacts, number of focal lesions, and presence of a diffuse increase in signal intensity.

RESULTS: No abnormalities were seen in the volunteers. The CSE sequences were significantly less hindered by MR imaging artifacts than were the FSE sequences. Interobserver agreement was slightly higher for the CSE than the FSE sequences. After reaching a consensus, the observers found that both CSE and FSE techniques enabled detection of approximately the same number of focal lesions; however, in three patients, small single lesions seen on the CSE images were missed on the FSE images. Also, depiction of a diffuse increase in signal intensity was better on the CSE images. As a result, more patients had abnormal findings on the CSE sequences than on the FSE sequences (35 versus 31).

CONCLUSION: Cardiac-triggered dual-echo FSE sequences are almost as good as CSE sequences for depicting spinal MS lesions. Therefore, in cases of established spinal MS, FSE techniques may be as effective as CSE techniques. Because sensitivity for subtle abnormalities is lower with FSE imaging, CSE remains the preferred technique for patients with suspected MS of the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-60
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of neuroradiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998


  • Adult
  • Artifacts
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/instrumentation
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis/diagnosis
  • Observer Variation
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spinal Cord/pathology

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