Efficacy of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in neurological diagnosis and neurotherapeutic decision making

Lin A, Ross BD, Harris K, Wong W

NeuroRx 2005 Apr;2(2):197-214

PMID: 15897945


Anatomic and functional neuroimaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) includes the technology more widely known as magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Now a routine automated “add-on” to all clinical magnetic resonance scanners, MRS, which assays regional neurochemical health and disease, is therefore the most accessible diagnostic tool for clinical management of neurometabolic disorders. Furthermore, the noninvasive nature of this technique makes it an ideal tool for therapeutic monitoring of disease and neurotherapeutic decision making. Among the more than 100 brain disorders that fall within this broad category, MRS contributes decisively to clinical decision making in a smaller but growing number. In this review, we will cover how MRS provides therapeutic impact in brain tumors, metabolic disorders such as adrenoleukodystrophy and Canavan’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hypoxia, secondary to trauma or ischemia, human immunodeficiency virus dementia and lesions, as well as systemic disease such as hepatic and renal failure. Together, these eight indications for MRS apply to a majority of all cases seen. This review, which examines the role of MRS in enhancing routine neurological practice and treatment concludes: 1) there is added value from MRS where MRI is positive; 2) there is unique decision-making information in MRS when MRI is negative; and 3) MRS usefully informs decision making in neurotherapeutics. Additional efficacy studies could extend the range of this capability.