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Recent Findings with Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

The corpus callosum is a structure in the center of the brain that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. It is heavily myelinated and is often a target of multiple sclerosis (MS) inflammation and damage. A recent study we conducted found that DTI measured nerve tract damage in corpus callosum and correlated well with cognitive impairment in MS patients (Reich et al. in press).

Another study showed that vision tracts in the back of the brain, called the optic radiations, are very abnormal in many people with MS even in locations where there are no MS plaques as visualized by conventional T2 MRI (Reich et al, Archives of Neurology, 2009).

We have been able to get DTI images of very small parts of the nervous system including specific nerve bundles in the spinal cord and the optic nerve (Zackowski et al Brain 2009).

These MRI techniques will allow us to see very early changes caused by MS. It is believed that early damage in MS is predictive of long-term disability. Thus the ability to visualize very early changes may become important in studying and evaluating the effects of new treatments for MS.

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