The histologic characteristics that are the basis for diagnosis of central nervous system conditions cannot be visualized directly using magnetic resonance (MR) methods, but clinical diagnosis may be based on the frequency and pattern of MR imaging signs, which represent predominantly the gross morphologic features of lesions. Additional quantitative MR measures of myelination, cell swelling, gliosis, and neuronal loss may also be used for more specific characterization of lesions. These measures include magnetization transfer ratio, apparent diffusion coefficient, and the concentrations or ratios of metabolites identified by spectroscopy. Confidence that an MR abnormality is responsible for the clinical signs depends primarily on the degree of correspondence between the site of the lesion and the neuroanatomical localization.
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