Clinical, MRI, CSF and electrophysiological findings in different stages of multiple sclerosis

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2006 Mar;108(3):271-4. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2005.11.021. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


Effective therapy in the earliest stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) demands early correct diagnosis. Retrospective analysis included 130 patients (90 women) with a median age of 35.5 years, median duration of the disease of 2 years and median EDSS score of 3.0. Twenty-seven patients had clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) suggestive of MS, 66 relapsing-remitting (RR) MS, 19 secondary progressive (SP) MS and 18 primary progressive (PP) MS. The predominant symptoms were sensory in 52% of the patients with CIS compared to 27% in patients with RRMS, whereas they were more often motor in patients with PPMS. Patients with CIS had higher CSF cell counts than patients diagnosed in later stages of the disease and oligoclonal bands were found in 89% of all patients without statistically significant differences between the subgroups. Prolonged latencies of visual evoked potentials (VEP) were found in only 29% of patients with CIS compared to 66% in RRMS, 75% in SPMS and 65% of PPMS patients. Fifty-six percent of patients with CIS, 88% with RRMS, 74% with SPMS and 78% of patients with PPMS fulfilled modified the Barkhof et al. MRI criteria at the time of diagnosis. Patients in early MS often present with sensory symptoms. Brain MRI can be inconclusive in over 40% of patients with CIS but the elevated CSF cell count and positive oligoclonal bands are helpful in establishing the diagnosis of CIS suggestive of MS. In later stages of the disease the combination of clinical features, MRI, prolonged VEP latencies and positive CSF oligoclonal bands secures the correct diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*


  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin G