ABSTRACT: Previous studies in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) revealed increased lesion count and volume on 3 T compared to 1.5 T. Morphological and spatial lesion characteristics between 1.5 T and 3 T have not been examined. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of changing from a 1.5 T to a 3 T MRI scanner on the number, volume and spatial distribution of signal abnormalities (SA) on brain MRI in a sample of MS patients and normal controls (NC), using pair- and voxel-wise comparison procedures. Forty-one (41) MS patients (32 relapsing-remitting and 9 secondary-progressive) and 38 NC were examined on both 1.5 T and 3 T within one week in random order. T2-weighted hyperintensities (T2H) and T1-weighted hypointensities (T1H) were outlined semiautomatically by two operators in a blinded fashion on 1.5 T and 3 T images. Spatial lesion distribution was assessed using T2 and T1 voxel-wise SA probability maps (SAPM). Pair-wise analysis examined the proportion of SA not simultaneously outlined on 1.5 T and 3 T. A posteriori unblinded analysis was conducted to examine the non-overlapping identifications of SA between the 1.5 T and 3 T. For pair-wise T2- and T1-analyses, a higher number and individual volume of SA were detected on 3 T compared to 1.5 T (p<0.0001) in both MS and NC. Logistic regression analysis showed that the likelihood of missing SA on 1.5 T was significantly higher for smaller SA in both MS and NC groups. SA probability map (SAPM) analysis revealed significantly more regionally distinct spatial SA differences on 3 T compared to 1.5 T in both groups (p<0.05); these were most pronounced in the occipital, periventricular and cortical regions for T2H. This study provides important information regarding morphological and spatial differences between data acquired using 1.5 T and 3 T protocols at the two scanner field strengths.
NeuroImage 04/2009; 47(4):1352-62. · 5.89 Impact Factor