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The 2015 Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis and 2016 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centres guidelines on the use of MRI in diagnosis and monitoring of multiple sclerosis made an important step towards appropriate use of MRI in routine clinical practice. Since their promulgation, there have been substantial relevant advances in knowledge, including the 2017 revisions of the McDonald diagnostic criteria, renewed safety concerns regarding intravenous gadolinium-based contrast agents, and the value of spinal cord MRI for diagnostic, prognostic, and monitoring purposes. These developments suggest a changing role of MRI for the management of patients with multiple sclerosis. This 2021 revision of the previous guidelines on MRI use for patients with multiple sclerosis merges recommendations from the Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis study group, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centres, and North American Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis Cooperative, and translates research findings into clinical practice to improve the use of MRI for diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of individuals with multiple sclerosis. We recommend changes in MRI acquisition protocols, such as emphasising the value of three dimensional-fluid-attenuated inversion recovery as the core brain pulse sequence to improve diagnostic accuracy and ability to identify new lesions to monitor treatment effectiveness, and we provide recommendations for the judicious use of gadolinium-based contrast agents for specific clinical purposes. Additionally, we extend the recommendations to the use of MRI in patients with multiple sclerosis in childhood, during pregnancy, and in the post-partum period. Finally, we discuss promising MRI approaches that might deserve introduction into clinical practice in the near future.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Neurol

Publication Date