The early risk of multiple sclerosis following isolated acute syndromes of the brainstem and spinal cord

Ann Neurol. 1989 Nov;26(5):635-9. doi: 10.1002/ana.410260508.


A combined clinical and magnetic resonance imaging follow-up study was undertaken to determine the risk of early progression to multiple sclerosis in patients who present with clinically isolated lesions of the brainstem or spinal cord. Progression to multiple sclerosis was seen in 13 patients (57%) who had a brainstem syndrome and in 14 patients (42%) who had a spinal cord syndrome after mean intervals of 15 and 16 months, respectively. The risk of progression was increased by the presence of oligoclonal bands in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with either syndrome and by the presence of disseminated brain lesions, as detected by magnetic resonance imaging, in those with a spinal cord syndrome. Follow-up revealed evidence of multiphasic disease in 24 (69%) of 35 patients who had disseminated lesions on magnetic resonance imaging scans at presentation, suggesting that multiple sclerosis is the usual cause of such lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases / complications*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / etiology*
  • Risk
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / physiopathology
  • Syndrome