Interpretation of Brain Volume Increase in Multiple Sclerosis

Tomas Uher, Niels Bergsland, Jan Krasensky, Michael G. Dwyer, Michaela Andelova, Lukas Sobisek, Eva Kubala Havrdova, Dana Horakova, Robert Zivadinov, Manuela Vaneckova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: A high variability of brain MRI volume change measurement renders challenging its interpretation in multiple sclerosis (MS). Occurrence and clinical relevance of observed apparent brain volume increase (BVI) in MS patients have not been investigated yet. The objective was to quantify the prevalence and factors associated with BVI. METHODS: We examined 366 MS patients (2,317 scans) and 44 controls (132 scans). Volumetric analysis of brain volume changes was performed by SIENA and ScanView. BVI was defined as brain volume change >0%. We compared characteristics of patients with and without BVI. RESULTS: BVI was found in 26.3% (from 1,951) longitudinal scans (SIENA). If BVI occurred, a probability that BVI will be repeated consecutively more than or equal to two times was 15.9%. The repeated BVI was associated with clinical disease activity in 50% of cases. BVI was associated with shorter time and lower T2 lesion volume increase between two MRI scans, and higher normalized brain volume (all P <.0001). A proportion of scans with BVI was higher when analyzed by ScanView (35.3%) and in controls (36.4% by SIENA). CONCLUSIONS: BVI occurs in a great proportion of MR scans over short-term follow-up and is not associated with disease stabilization. Although BVI can be caused by several factors, the results indicate that measurement error may contribute to BVI in the majority of cases. Clinicians should be aware of the frequent occurrence of apparent BVI, interpret brain volume changes in MS patients with great caution, and use methods with precise quantification of brain volume changes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 2020


  • Brain atrophy
  • interpretation
  • MRI
  • multiple sclerosis
  • volume increase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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