Brain MRI findings in long-standing and disabling multiple sclerosis in 84 patients

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2010 May;112(4):286-90. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2009.12.012. Epub 2010 Jan 12.


Objective: To look for cerebral white matter MRI changes in patients with long-standing and disabling MS.

Methods: We analyzed retrospectively brain MRIs (performed 10 or more years after symptom onset) of patients with MS diagnosis and expanded disability status scale of 6 or more. The following parameters were analyzed: total number of brain T2 hyperintensities; number of brainstem, cerebellar, corpus callosum, basal ganglia, and juxtacortical T2 hyperintensities; diffuse leukoencephalopathy score; total number of T1 hypointensities.

Results: Eighty-four patients were included. The mean time between symptom onset and MRI was 20.2 years. Eight percent had less than 9 cerebral T2 hyperintensities. Posterior fossa, juxtacortical, and corpus callosum T2 hyperintensities, and T1 hypointensities lacked in respectively 19%, 12%, 47%, and 8%. Overall, normal MRI was not seen, 6% had abnormal MRI but did not meet Barkhof's criteria, and the remaining 94% had MRI abnormalities fulfilling Barkhof's criteria. Moderate or severe diffuse leukoencephalopathy was seen in 69%. Extensive diffuse leukoencephalopathy predominant to nodular lesions was seen in 5%.

Conclusions: Despite long-standing and disabling MS, typical MRI abnormalities lacked in a minority of patients, and 6% did not fulfil Barkhof's criteria. The majority showed moderate or severe diffuse leukoencephalopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Corpus Callosum / pathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics