Degenerative changes of the cervical spinal column are the most common cause of spinal cord lesions in the elderly. Conventional clinical, electrophysiological and radiological diagnostics of spinal cord compression are often inconsistent.
Materials and Method
The feasibility and diagnostic potential of a novel T1 mapping method at 0.5 mm resolution and 4 s acquisition time was evaluated in 14 patients with degenerative cervical spinal canal stenosis (SCS) and 6 healthy controls. T1 mapping was performed in axial sections of the stenosis as well as above and below. All subjects received standard T2-weighted MRI of the cervical spine (including SCS-grading 0-III), electrophysiological and clinical examinations.
Patients revealed significantly decreased T1 relaxation times of the compressed spinal cord within the SCS (912 ± 53 ms, mean ± standard deviation) in comparison to unaffected segments above (1027 ± 39 ms, p < .001) and below (1056 ± 93 ms, p < .001). There was no difference in mean T1 in unaffected segments in patients (p = .712) or between segments in controls (p = .443). Moreover, T1 values were significantly lower in grade II (881 ± 46 ms, p = .005) than in grade I SCS (954 ± 29 ms). Patients with central conduction deficit tended to have lower T1 values within the SCS than patients without (909 ± 50 ms vs 968 ± 7 ms, p = .069).
Rapid high-resolution T1 mapping is a robust MRI method for quantifying spinal cord compression in patients with cervical SCS. It promises additional diagnostic insights and warrants more extended patient studies.