Correlation Between Disability and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Abnormalities in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

J Clin Neurosci. 2009 Nov;16(11):1439-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2009.03.009. Epub 2009 Aug 19.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an idiopathic inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system. Clinical evaluation, MRI, cerebrospinal fluid testing and evoked potentials (EP) are among the available methods utilized for disease diagnosis and monitoring. To date, no surrogate markers have been established to assess disease evolution and progression. The aim of this study is to assess motor evoked potentials (MEP) of MS patients by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and investigate the possible correlations between TMS abnormalities and disability in the patient group, which includes a subgroup with no apparent pyramidal tract dysfunction. A total of 131 clinically definite MS patients were included in the study. Motor responses to TMS stimulation were recorded. Absent values, decreases in amplitude, prolongation of latency and central motor conduction time (CMCT) were considered as abnormal. A total of 109 (83%) patients displayed abnormal MEP amplitude, 68 (52%) displayed MEP latency, and 64 (49%) displayed CMCT abnormalities. Abnormal CMCT, latency and amplitude results were correlated with Expanded Disability Status Scale scores (p<0.001). Our results indicate that TMS-EP in MS patients is correlated with disability, and that these findings may support the role of EPs in predicting disability even in subclinical presentations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*