Ultra-high field spinal cord MRI in multiple sclerosis: Where are we standing? A literature review

Daniël J Kreiter*, Job van den Hurk, Christopher J. Wiggins, Raymond M M Hupperts, Oliver H H Gerlach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a cornerstone in multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnostics and monitoring. Ultra-high field (UHF) MRI is being increasingly used and becoming more accessible. Due to the small diameter and mobility of the spinal cord, imaging this structure at ultra-high fields poses additional challenges compared to brain imaging. Here we review the potential benefits for the MS field by providing a literature overview of the use UHF spinal cord MRI in MS research and we elaborate on the challenges that are faced. Benefits include increased signal- and contrast-to-noise, enabling for higher spatial resolutions, which can improve MS lesion sensitivity in both the spinal white matter as well as grey matter. Additionally, these benefits can aid imaging of microstructural abnormalities in the spinal cord in MS using advanced MRI techniques like functional imaging, MR spectroscopy and diffusion-based techniques. Technical challenges include increased magnetic field inhomogeneities, distortions from physiological motion and optimalisation of sequences. Approaches including parallel imaging techniques, real time shimming and retrospective compensation of physiological motion are making it increasingly possible to unravel the potential of spinal cord UHF MRI in the context of MS research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103436
Number of pages7
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Early online date29 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • 1.5 T
  • 3T
  • 7T
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • multiple sclerosis
  • spinal cord
  • ultra-high field

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