Utility of MRI Enhancement Pattern in Myelopathies With Longitudinally Extensive T2 Lesions

Rafid Mustafa, Theodore J. Passe, Alfonso S. Lopez-Chiriboga, Brian G. Weinshenker, Karl N. Krecke, Nicholas L. Zalewski, Felix E. Diehn, Elia Sechi, Jay Mandrekar, Timothy J. Kaufmann, Padraig P. Morris, Sean J. Pittock, Michel Toledano, Giuseppe Lanzino, Allen J. Aksamit, Neeraj Kumar, Claudia F. Lucchinetti, Eoin P. Flanagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ObjectiveTo determine whether MRI gadolinium enhancement patterns in myelopathies with longitudinally extensive T2 lesions can be reliably distinguished and assist in diagnosis.MethodsWe retrospectively identified 74 Mayo Clinic patients (January 1, 1996-December 31, 2019) fulfilling the following criteria: (1) clinical myelopathy; (2) MRI spine available; (3) longitudinally extensive T2 hyperintensity (≥3 vertebral segments); and (4) characteristic gadolinium enhancement pattern associated with a specific myelopathy etiology. Thirty-nine cases with alternative myelopathy etiologies, without previously described enhancement patterns, were included as controls. Two independent readers, educated on enhancement patterns, reviewed T2-weighted and postgadolinium T1-weighted images and selected the diagnosis based on this knowledge. These were compared with the true diagnoses, and agreement was measured with Kappa coefficient.ResultsAmong all cases and controls (n = 113), there was excellent agreement for diagnosis using postgadolinium images (kappa, 0.76) but poor agreement with T2-weighted characteristics alone (kappa, 0.25). A correct diagnosis was more likely when assessing postgadolinium image characteristics than with T2-weighted images alone (rater 1: 100/113 [88%] vs 61/113 [54%] correct, p < 0.0001; rater 2: 95/113 [84%] vs 68/113 [60%] correct, p < 0.0001). Of the 74 with characteristic enhancement patterns, 55 (74%) were assigned an alternative incorrect or nonspecific diagnosis when originally evaluated in clinical practice, 12 (16%) received immunotherapy for noninflammatory myelopathies, and 2 (3%) underwent unnecessary spinal cord biopsy.ConclusionsMisdiagnosis of myelopathies is common. The gadolinium enhancement patterns characteristic of specific diagnoses can be identified with excellent agreement between raters educated on this topic. This study highlights the potential diagnostic utility of enhancement patterns in myelopathies with longitudinally extensive T2 lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E601-E611
JournalNeurology: Clinical Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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