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Acta Neurol Scand. 2011 Mar;123(3):207-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2010.01388.x.

Bilateral and recurrent optic neuritis in multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Neuroscience/Neurology, Uppsala University, Sweden.



To assess the frequency of bilateral and recurrent optic neuritis (ON) in multiple sclerosis (MS) and to compare these results with epidemiological data of ON in neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and recurrent ON without other signs of disease.


We identified 472 patients with diagnosis of MS from the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Register. These patients were evaluated for the presence of ON and whether the ON was the presenting symptom of MS; unilateral or bilateral; monophasic or recurrent.


Twenty-one percent presented with ON as their first manifestation of MS. The proportion of patients developing a second attack of ON before demonstration of other manifestations of MS was 5.5% and the frequency of recurrent bilateral ON as the presenting symptom was 3.8%. Only two patients presented with simultaneously appearing bilateral ON corresponding to 0.42%.


Recurrent ON, whether unilateral or bilateral, is a common presentation of MS. As MS is a much more common disease than NMO, care must be taken when evaluating the work-up of patients with recurrent ON. In some cases repeated MRI and lumbar punctures are warranted to improve diagnostic accuracy, even in the presence of the serological marker NMO-IgG.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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