Purpose: To validate and extend the US case definition for the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS) from 1999 by a systematic literature-review.
Data source: MEDLINE-research from 1997 to August 2003, research in the Cochrane-Library in August 2003, earlier reviews since 1997.
Study selection: Headings and abstracts were screened by one reviewer. All references dealing with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) which covered topics of interest such as symptom-profiles, differential diagnostic procedures, etc. were included in the analysis.
Data extraction and synthesis: Topic-specific data extraction and synthesis was done by one reviewer. Data interpretation was discussed by all other authors.
Results: Out of 1429 references 36 publications proved to be suitable for the review. The results can be summarized as follows: exposure-related symptoms associated with self-reported multiple chemical sensitivities can be divided into non-specific complaints of the central nervous system--CNS (main characteristics) and functional disturbances in other organ systems (optional complaints). There is a significant overlap of MCS, CFS and fibromyalgie. At present no standards for a diagnostic procedure based on the criteria outlined above are existing
Conclusions: MCS should only be diagnosed in patients who are mainly suffering from exposure-related non-specific complaints of the Central nervous system. The suggested diagnostic procedure follows the guidelines for CFS which are extended by diagnostic clarification of functional disturbances in other organ systems.