Quantitative MR Markers in Non-Myelopathic Spinal Cord Compression: A Narrative Review



Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Clinical Medicine
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Web https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/11/9/2301
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm11092301
Keywords non-myelopathic cervical spinal cord compression; degenerative cervical myelopathy; diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; quantitative magnetic resonance imaging
Description Degenerative spinal cord compression is a frequent pathological condition with increasing prevalence throughout aging. Initial non-myelopathic cervical spinal cord compression (NMDC) might progress over time into potentially irreversible degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM). While quantitative MRI (qMRI) techniques demonstrated the ability to depict intrinsic tissue properties, longitudinal in-vivo biomarkers to identify NMDC patients who will eventually develop DCM are still missing. Thus, we aim to review the ability of qMRI techniques (such as diffusion MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), magnetization transfer (MT) imaging, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H-1-MRS)) to serve as prognostic markers in NMDC. While DTI in NMDC patients consistently detected lower fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity at compressed levels, caused by demyelination and axonal injury, MT and H-1-MRS, along with advanced and tract-specific diffusion MRI, recently revealed microstructural alterations, also rostrally pointing to Wallerian degeneration. Recent studies also disclosed a significant relationship between microstructural damage and functional deficits, as assessed by qMRI and electrophysiology, respectively. Thus, tract-specific qMRI, in combination with electrophysiology, critically extends our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of degenerative spinal cord compression and may provide predictive markers of DCM development for accurate patient management. However, the prognostic value must be validated in longitudinal studies.
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