Topological characteristics of brainstem lesions in clinically definite and clinically probable cases of multiple sclerosis: an MRI-study

Neuroradiology. 1987;29(6):530-4. doi: 10.1007/BF00350435.


Disseminated lesions in the white matter of the cerebral hemispheres and confluent lesions at the borders of the lateral ventricles as seen on MRI are both considered acceptable paraclinical evidence for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Similar changes are, however, also found in vascular diseases of the brain. We therefore aimed at identifying those additional traits in the infratentorial region, which in our experience are not frequently found in cerebrovascular pathology. We evaluated MR brain scans of 68 patients and found pontine lesions in 71% of cases with a clinically definite diagnosis (17 out of 24) and in 33% of cases with a probable diagnosis (14 out of 43). Lesions in the medulla oblongata were present in 50% and 16%, respectively, and in the midbrain in 25% and 7%, respectively. With rare exceptions all brainstem lesions were contiguous with the cisternal or ventricular cerebrospinal fluid spaces. In keeping with post-mortem reports the morphological spectrum ranged from large confluent patches to solitary, well delineated paramedian lesions or discrete linings of the cerebrospinal fluid border zones and were most clearly depicted form horizontal and sagittal T2 weighted SE-sequences. If there is a predilection for the outer or inner surfaces of the brainstem, such lesions can be considered an additional typical feature of multiple sclerosis and can be more reliably weighted as paraclinical evidence for a definite diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Stem / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Medulla Oblongata / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Pons / pathology