Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was done in 109 patients with suspected demyelinating disease (56 with clinical multiple sclerosis [MS] and 53 without). Of those with clinical MS, 43 (77%) had multifocal lesions of the white matter detected on MRI; 12 of the 43 also had confluent periventricular signaling. Nine patients (17%) without clinical MS had similar findings. Of the 56 patients with MS, 35 underwent both computed tomography (Ct) and MRI. In this group, 80% of MRI scans showed multiple demyelinating lesions compatible with MS, as compared with 29% of the CT scans. A CT scan was “positive” more often if obtained within 1 month after an attack of MS than later. In contrast, the sensitivity of MRI or the number of lesions detected by MRI did not increase in patients with recent exacerbations. MRI was “positive” in patients with clinical MS more often than was any single evoked response study. In statistical analyses, both the sensitivity of MRI and the number of lesions were associated with the duration of MS. A pattern of confluent periventricular signaling around the lateral ventricle was associated with greater duration of MS and patient disability.
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