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Imaging of Central Nervous System Demyelinating Disorders

Balashov, Konstantin MD, PhD, FAAN

CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology: October 2016 - Volume 22 - Issue 5, Neuroimaging - p 1613–1635
doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000373
Review Articles

ABSTRACT Purpose of Review: This article focuses on neuroimaging in multiple sclerosis (MS), the most common central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating disorder encountered by practicing neurologists. Less common adult demyelinating disorders and incidental subclinical white matter abnormalities that are often considered in the differential diagnosis of MS are also reviewed.

Recent Findings: Advancements in neuroimaging techniques, eg, the application of ultrahigh-field MRI, are rapidly expanding the use of neuroimaging in CNS demyelinating disorders. Probably the most important recent findings include the detection of cortical lesions and CNS atrophy even in early stages of MS. The key development for practicing neurologists is the growing impact of MRI on the diagnostic criteria for MS and neuromyelitis optica (NMO) spectrum disorders.

Summary: MRI serves as an important component of the diagnostic criteria for MS and other major CNS demyelinating disorders, and it has been established as a reliable and sensitive indicator of disease activity and progression. In addition, rapidly advancing neuroimaging techniques are helping to improve our understanding of disease pathogenesis.

Address correspondence to Dr Konstantin Balashov, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Neurology, 125 Paterson St, 6th Floor, Ste 6200, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901,

Relationship Disclosure: Dr Balashov has served on the editorial boards of BMC Neurology and Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation, as chairperson of the health care advisory committee of the New Jersey chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and as a consultant for Sanofi Genzyme and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Dr Balashov has received research/grant support and personal compensation for speaking engagements from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and research/grant support from Biogen and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Unlabeled Use of Products/Investigational Use Disclosure: Dr Balashov reports no disclosure.

© 2016 American Academy of Neurology
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