Introduction: In an attempt to establish the value of MRI, VEP, SEP, and biotesiometry in monitoring disease evolution we undertook a one year follow up study of 70 untreated patients with acute optic neuritis (ON).
Material & methods: ON was monosymptomatic in 48 patients (bilateral in 10) and part of clinically definite multiple sclerosis (CDMS) in 22 patients, examined as mentioned below.
Results: Results are given at onset and at follow up (in brackets). In monosymptomatic ON, brain MRI was abnormal in 53% (53%), VEP in the eye with acute ON in 79% (71%), VEP in the clinically unaffected eye in 34% (47%), SEP in 25% (23%), and biotesiometry in 29% (17%). In CDMS, brain MRI was abnormal in 95% (95%), VEP in the eye with acute ON in 86% (77%), VEP in the clinically unaffected eye in 50% (64%), SEP in 55% (50%), and biotesiometry in 63% (53%). Only minor changes in test scores were observed after one year except for significant improvement of VEP in eyes with acute ON. Eight of 32 patients, characterized by at least one abnormal paraclinical test at onset of monosymptomatic ON, had developed CDMS versus none of 16 patients with normal paraclinical results (p = 0.03; Fisher).
Conclusion: Patients with monosymptomatic ON with paraclinical signs of multifocal involvement at onset had an increased risk of developing CDMS. No single test predicted the evolution of CDMS, perhaps due to the relatively short follow up time.