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Neurology. 2006 Sep 26;67(6):968-72.

Baseline MRI predicts future attacks and disability in clinically isolated syndromes.

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Unit of Clinical Neuroimmunology (Department of Neurology), Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.



To determine the relation between baseline MRI and both conversion to multiple sclerosis (MS) and development of disability in a cohort of patients with clinically isolated syndromes (CIS).


From 1995 to 1998, 175 consecutive patients with CIS underwent brain MRI within 3 months of their first attack and again 12 months and 5 years later. We studied the number and location of lesions at baseline and development of new T2 lesions. We also analyzed conversion to MS and development of disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] > or = 3.0).


We included 156 patients with CIS followed for a median of 7 years. Compared to the reference group with 0 Barkhof criteria at baseline MRI, patients with one or two Barkhof criteria showed an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 6.1 (2.2 to 16.6) and patients with three to four Barkhof criteria of 17.0 (6.7 to 43) for conversion to MS and differentiated patients with low, medium, and high conversion risk. EDSS at year 5 correlated with baseline number of Barkhof criteria (r = 0.46, p < 0.0001). When categorizing by number of baseline lesions, similar results were seen. Patients with a baseline MRI with three to four Barkhof criteria had an adjusted HR of 3.9 (1.1 to 13.6) for reaching EDSS > or = 3.0. Only 10% of the latter had disability at year 5, but 40% reached this at 8 years.


Baseline MRI determines the risk for converting to clinically definite multiple sclerosis and correlates with disability at 5 years. The proportion of patients developing disability is low during the first 5 years but rapidly increases shortly after.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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