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My brain and spine MRI's showed atrophy
11-01-2013, 12:29 PM
Post: #1
My brain and spine MRI's showed atrophy
I was diagnosed in 2006, 18 years after I had ON. An opthamologist told me this could be MS. It cleared up. I had no recognizable problems. I thought I dodged a bullet. In 2006, I found out I had not dodged it. I read that people who live with MS for a long time without being affected much, can just end up with some atrophy of the spine and the brain. So I wanted to know if my brain and spine MRI's showed atrophy. I did run across a poster who identified herself as a neurological nurse, on one of the boards. I did ask her how spine atrophy was determined? Brains get black holes. Was it by clinical observation of how the spine was working or can it be shown on an MRI? Is there a standard diameter a spine must have to be non-atrophied?

She said the MRI of the spine does not narrrow uniformily on the MRI, instead it suddenly narrows and widens and that shows atrophy. Does a lot of CFS fluid around the cord inside the spinal cage or around the brain in the skull determine it? What is a lot of CFS fluid? Any thoughts or experiences in determining atrophy?
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11-01-2013, 12:31 PM
Post: #2
RE: My brain and spine MRI's showed atrophy
You are right in general, you're right---For a given individual, the only sure way to determine brain atrophy is to compare old and new MRIs. Also, it is established that normal brains atrophy somewhat with age. However, radiologists are highly trained and have looked at thousands of brains and their MRIs. They know what is the normal range and what isn't, based on age.

If a radiologist's report includes a statement about brain atrophy, it is made in the context of what is normal for a person of that age, and I'm sure 'normal' means 'falls within a range' above and below which is abnormal. I guess there are outliers in everything, but that would be extremely rare.

Now here's where I'm really speculating, so I hope Quix sees this and amends what I say: I think brain atrophy must basically mean a shrinking of the gray matter, which holds the thinking parts. The white matter is basically the wiring. Of course if there's enough damage, the white matter fails to regenerate at all, and then plaques might be absorbed, leaving the 'holes' we hear about, and the matter around them contracts.

But I'd imagine if the wiring doesn't function, the gray cells they connect would also be seriously damaged and could eventually die. That's another way that brain volume could lessen.

I'm even more confused about the spinal cord. I haven't heard about that atrophying at all.

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