Background: There is only 1 report about multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence in Taiwan, and this was published in 1976 and involved only 25 patients. The clinical features and prevalence of MS in Taiwan still remain to be clarified. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and delineate the clinical features of MS in Taiwanese patients.
Methods: We retrospectively identified 43 ethnic Chinese multiple sclerosis (MS) patients over a 14-year period. The MS prevalence in Taiwan was estimated based on Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) data. The clinical data (gender, family history, age at onset, initial symptoms, clinical course, disability and laboratory findings, evoked response and neuroimaging) were recorded, collected and analyzed.
Results: The MS prevalence in Taiwan was as low as 1.9 per 100,000. The distribution of most of the clinical features of our patients, like those in other Asian series, was different from Western series except for the percentage of the conventional form and sensory disturbances. Cerebrospinal fluid analysis for IgG index and OCB seemed to be less sensitive in the diagnosis of MS in our series.
Conclusions: The prevalence of MS in Taiwan, as in other Asian countries, was low; the optic-spinal form occurred very often, but predominant spinal cord involvement was not unusual, as well as there being less functional disability. A larger, prospective study is needed to provide more conclusive information.