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Muscle Nerve. 2007 Mar;35(3):291-302.

Primary lateral sclerosis.

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Department of Neurology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75390-8897, USA.


The spectrum of motor neuron diseases ranges from disorders that clinically are limited to lower motor neurons to those that exclusively affect upper motor neurons. Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) is the designation for the syndrome of progressive upper motor neuron dysfunction when no other etiology is identified. Distinction between PLS and the more common amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) relies primarily on recognition of their symptoms and signs, as well as on ancillary, although non-specific, laboratory data. In this review, we survey the history of PLS from the initial descriptions to the present. We discuss the role of laboratory, electrodiagnostic, and imaging studies in excluding other diagnoses; the findings from major case series of PLS patients; and proposed diagnostic criteria. Consistent differences are evident in patients classified as PLS compared to those with ALS, indicating that, despite its limitations, this clinical designation retains important utility.

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