Thalamic lesions in multiple sclerosis by 7T MRI: Clinical implications and relationship to cortical pathology

Daniel M. Harrison, Jiwon Oh, Snehashis Roy, Emily T. Wood, Anna Whetstone, Michaela A. Seigo, Craig K. Jones, Dzung Pham, Peter Van Zijl, Daniel S. Reich, Peter A. Calabresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: Pathology in both cortex and deep gray matter contribute to disability in multiple sclerosis (MS). We used the increased signal-to-noise ratio of 7-tesla (7T) MRI to visualize small lesions within the thalamus and to relate this to clinical information and cortical lesions. Methods: We obtained 7T MRI scans on 34 MS cases and 15 healthy volunteers. Thalamic lesion number and volume were related to demographic data, clinical disability measures, and lesions in cortical gray matter. Results: Thalamic lesions were found in 24/34 of MS cases. Two lesion subtypes were noted: discrete, ovoid lesions, and more diffuse lesional areas lining the periventricular surface. The number of thalamic lesions was greater in progressive MS compared to relapsingremitting (mean ±SD, 10.7 ±0.7 vs. 3.0 ±0.7, respectively, p <0.001). Thalamic lesion burden (count and volume) correlated with EDSS score and measures of cortical lesion burden, but not with white matter lesion burden or white matter volume. Conclusions: Using 7T MRI allows identification of thalamic lesions in MS, which are associated with disability, progressive disease, and cortical lesions. Thalamic lesion analysis may be a simpler, more rapid estimate of overall gray matter lesion burden in MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1150
Number of pages12
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 25 2015


  • MRI
  • multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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