Objective: To investigate the incidence and characteristics of patients with structural central nervous system (CNS) lesions and cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal IgG bands.
Design: A retrospective study.
Method: The medical records of patients with cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal IgG bands were evaluated for the presence of structural CNS lesions, their location and cause, and for clinical characteristics.
Setting: Cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal IgG bands were examined in the Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.
Patients: Two hundred seventy of 570 patients with positive cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal IgG bands were available for analysis. Twenty patients had structural CNS lesions.
Results: Twenty (7.5%) of the 270 patients had structural CNS lesions: 3 patients had spinal arteriovenous malformation; 5 patients had tumors; 9 patients had compressive cervical myelopathy. Traumatic leukomalacia, Arnold-Chiari malformation type 1, and CNS hemosiderosis were present in 1 patient each. In 2 patients (1 patient with recurrent meningioma and 1 patient with posttraumatic encephalomalacia) the presence of a structural CNS lesion was followed by the development of multiple sclerosis. In all 3 patients with spinal arteriovenous malformation, oligoclonal IgG identification prolonged the time to diagnosis and therapy, which varied from a few weeks to 3 years.
Conclusions: Structural CNS lesions, responsible for the neurological disorder, were present in 20 patients (7.5%) with cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal IgG bands. The mechanism underlying oligoclonal IgG presence in spinal arteriovenous malformation and the coexistence of multiple sclerosis and structural CNS lesions is unknown, but may be related to recurrent tissue damage with repeated presentation of CNS antigens to the immune system.