Multiple Sclerosis: New MRI Contrast Medium Seen To Improve Early Diagnosis

With multiple sclerosis quite a difficult disease to diagnose, doctors are depending on MRI scans in order to determine tissue damage on the central nervous system that is one of the primary signs of possible multiple sclerosis. But then, current MRI scan may not be able to distinctly provide a more distinct and clearer picture for an early diagnosis if a patient truly has developed MS. But recent studies have shown that a new MRI contrast medium may help aid doctors in determining the early stages of multiple sclerosis in patients.

Neuroradiologists and neurologists from the hospitals of the University of Heidelberg and Wurzburg have been able to visualize inflammatory tissue damage in an animal model that was caused by multiple sclerosis using Gadofluorine M, a new contrast medium in magnetic resonance imaging. The new MRI contrast medium was able to to make inflammatory damage on tissues clearer in MRI scans, such damage of which are previously unrecognizable.

Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease characterized by tissue damage in the central nervous system. MS causes the body’s own immune system to attack the myelin cells that acts as insulation to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord that transmits electrical signals from the brain to the other parts of the body. The damage of myelin further causes the insulation to deteriorate until such time that the transmitted electrical signals from the brain and back are seriously affected, causing a variety of neurological malfunctions.

Although multiple sclerosis is still considered as a disease without a known effective cure, still drug treatment during the early stages are found to be very effective in controlling the disease. But early diagnosis of MS is not often established using the current methods. But with the use of Gadofluorine M as an MRI contrast medium, researchers are hoping to improve the early diagnosis of MS.

What makes it difficult for doctors to diagnose MS in its early stages is that current MRI scans can’t seem to visualize or display effectively new or the few of the developing inflammatory lesions that are there during the early stages of the disease. With using the new contrast medium on a animal models with MS, the doctors were able to visualize inflammation damage about five to ten times better than conventional MRI images and contrast media.

The researchers, headed by Prof. Dr. Martin Bendszus, Medical Director of the Department of Neuroradiology at the University Hospital of Heidelberg, examined the brains and the spinal cords of animals displaying the different stages of the multiple sclerosis using the new MRI contrast medium. The scientist were able to detect significantly more inflammatory lesions and thus was more superior than by using conventional MRI contrast media. It was seen to be quite effective especially in the spinal cord and nerve regions, areas that are particularly difficult for conventional MRI to examine.

Source: University Hospital Heidelberg. "Multiple Sclerosis: New MRI Contrast Medium Enables Early Diagnosis In Animal Model." ScienceDaily 4 August 2008. 5 August 2008 <>.

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