MR spectroscopy of the cervical spinal cord in chronic spinal cord injury

Patrik O. Wyss, Eveline Huber, Armin Curt, Spyros Kollias, Patrick Freund, Anke Henning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate metabolic changes in chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) by applying MR spectroscopy in the cervical spinal cord. Materials and Methods: Single-voxel short-echo spectroscopic data in study participants with chronic SCI and healthy control subjects were prospectively acquired in the cervical spinal cord at C2 above the level of injury between March 2016 and January 2017 and were compared between groups. Concentrations of total N-acetylaspartate (tNAA), myo-inositol (mI), total choline-containing compounds (tCho), creatine, and glutamine and glutamate complex were estimated from the acquired spectra. Participants were assessed with a comprehensive clinical evaluation investigating sensory and motor deficits. Correlation analysis was applied to investigate relationships between observed metabolic differences, lesion severity, and clinical outcome. Results: There were 18 male study participants with chronic SCI (median age, 51 years; range, 30–68 years) and 11 male healthy control subjects (median age, 45 years; range, 30–67 years). At cervical level C2, tNAA/mI and tCho/mI ratios were lower in participants with SCI (tNAA/mI: 226%, P = .003; tCho/mI: 218%; P = .04) than in healthy control subjects. The magnitude of difference was greater with the severity of cord atrophy (tNAA/mI: R2 = 0.44, P = .003; tCho/mI: R2 = 0.166, P = .09). Smaller tissue bridges at the lesion site correlated with lower ratios of tNAA/mI (R2 = 0.69, P = .006) and tCho/mI (R2 = 0.51, P = .03) at the C2 level. Lower tNAA/mI and tCho/mI ratios were associated with worse sensory and motor outcomes (P , .05). Conclusion: Supralesional metabolic alterations are observed in chronic spinal cord injury, likely reflecting neurodegeneration, demyelination, and astrocytic gliosis in the injured cervical cord. Lesion severity and greater clinical impairment are both linked to the biochemical changes in the atrophied cervical cord after spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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