Brain parenchymal lesions are frequently observed on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) spectrum disorder, but the specific morphological and temporal patterns distinguishing them unequivocally from lesions caused by other disorders have not been identified. This literature review summarizes the literature on advanced quantitative imaging measures reported for patients with NMO spectrum disorder, including proton MR spectroscopy, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetization transfer imaging, quantitative MR volumetry, and ultrahigh-field strength MRI. It was undertaken to consider the advanced MRI techniques used for patients with NMO by different specialists in the field. Although quantitative measures such as proton MR spectroscopy or magnetization transfer imaging have not reproducibly revealed diffuse brain injury, preliminary data from diffusion-weighted imaging and brain tissue volumetry indicate greater white matter than gray matter degradation. These findings could be confirmed by ultrahigh-field MRI. The use of nonconventional MRI techniques may further our understanding of the pathogenic processes in NMO spectrum disorders and may help us identify the distinct radiographic features corresponding to specific phenotypic manifestations of this disease.
Kremer S, Renard F, Achard S, Lana-Peixoto MA, Palace J, Asgari N, Klawiter EC, Tenembaum SN, Banwell B, Greenberg BM, Bennett JL, Levy M, Villoslada P, Saiz A, Fujihara K, Chan KH, Schippling S, Paul F, Kim HJ, de Seze J, Wuerfel JT, and the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation (GJCF) Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) International Clinical Consortium and Biorepository. Use of Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging Techniques in Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder. JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(7):815-822. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.0248