Hyperacute corticosteroid treatment of optic neuritis at the onset of pain may prevent visual loss: a case series

Mult Scler Int. 2011;2011:815068. doi: 10.1155/2011/815068. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


Aim. To show that high-dose corticosteroids may prevent visual loss in patients with optic neuritis (ON) treated at the prodromal, hyperacute, phase of retrobulbar pain. Method. Prospective case series: patients were recruited with a history of ON associated with pain. The patients were advised to report immediately to the investigators should the pain recur in either eye. Where possible, orbital magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed to confirm a recurrence of ON and treatment with high-dose corticosteroids was commenced. Visual function and the patient's subjective account were monitored. Results. Eight patients (including cases of MS, CRION and NMO) presented in the hyperacute phase. MRI confirmed optic nerve inflammation in 5/5. Treatment was commenced immediately, and, in all cases, no visual loss ensued. Conclusion. MRI can be used to confirm acute optic neuritis prior to visual loss in the hyperacute phase. We suggest that treatment with high-dose corticosteroids may abort the attack and prevent loss of vision in patients with ON who are treated at the onset of pain. This has potential implications for the management of acute ON and also for our understanding of the pathogenesis and potential therapeutic targets in the neuroinflammatory conditions associated with ON.