MRI Findings Predict Evolution of Preclinical Multiple Sclerosis

A study recently found that MRI scans may help detect multiple sclerosis in people even before the symptoms may show. In a study that was just published on the online journal Neurology, a third of the people studied having MRI brain scans that showed MS like signs but showing no visible symptoms ultimately developed multiple sclerosis after an average span of five years.

The study was composed of 44 people who undertook MRI scans of their brain for a variety of reasons ranging from migraine to head trauma. The scans made detected certain abnormalities in the brain that is similar to those that occur in multiple sclerosis.

At the point of making the MRI scans, the patients were not exhibiting any physical signs and symptoms of the disease yet. But after the other possible causes of the abnormalities have been ruled out and were considered to be related to multiple sclerosis, the researchers then followed up on the patients for a number of years to find out if they developed MS.

The study found that a third of the patient cases followed developed multiple sclerosis symptoms at an average of five years afterwards. Brain scans of an additional 29 percent of the participants showed added abnormalities in the brain but continued to show no visible symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

According to study author Darin T. Okuda, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, "More research is needed to fully understand the risk of developing MS for people with these brain abnormalities, but it appears that this condition may be a precursor to MS."

Editorial author Dennis Bourdette, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology strongly added, "Diagnosing a patient with MS has serious psychosocial and treatment implications, and physicians have an obligation to follow appropriate criteria in making the diagnosis." Dr. Bourdette said this after noting that seven of the participants Ms Treatments after they were referred to take part in the said study.

"Patients must have symptoms to receive a diagnosis. This study sets the stage for establishing a process for evaluating these patients and following them to help determine the risk of developing MS. Until then, we should not tell them that they have MS or treat them with disease-modifying therapies. For now, it’s best to remember the wise advice that we ‘treat the patient, not the MRI scan’", added Dr. Bourdette.

Source: American Academy of Neurology. "If MRI Shows Signs Of Multiple Sclerosis, Will The Disease Develop?." ScienceDaily 12 December 2008. 16 December 2008


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