More MS news articles for July 2001

New Evidence-Based Diagnostic Criteria for Multiple Sclerosis Announced

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Jul 11 - New criteria for diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS) developed by the International Panel on the Diagnosis of MS and sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society have been published in the July issue of the Annals of Neurology.

"The traditional diagnosis of MS has required the demonstration of two episodes of disease separated in time and space, and has depended heavily on objective evidence," Dr. Stephen C. Goldstein, from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in New York, told Reuters Health.

The diagnosis of MS is complex, he said, because there is no single laboratory test that can positively diagnose MS. "What one has to do to diagnose MS is to build a case that excludes other more likely diagnoses," Dr. Goldstein added.

When the National Multiple Sclerosis Society convened a group of international experts, chaired by Dr. W. Ian McDonald, from the Royal College of Physicians, in London, last summer they had two goals. One goal, Dr. Goldstein said, was to incorporate MRI in MS diagnosis, and the second was to revisit the older criteria and to ensure that they were still appropriate, which had not been done in 20 years.

The guidelines developed by the panel, he said, provide a specific method for developing clinical data, imaging data and laboratory data.

Dr. Goldstein added that "the new criteria allow one to say that the patient has MS, possible MS (if the workup is under way or is equivocal), or not MS. So the old categories of laboratory-supported MS, clinically definite MS, probable MS, possible MS, have been simplified."

The new guidelines "confirm the age-old criteria, which is the demonstration of signs and symptoms of MS separated in time and space. But what the new criteria do is tell you how to use adjunctive laboratory data including MRI to develop evidence of either dissemination of the disease in time or in space, which is a fundamental difference than what has been done in the past," Dr. Goldstein stressed.

Ann Neurol 2001;50:121-127.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd