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Ann Neurol. 1989 Aug;26(2):248-56.

Chronic progressive multiple sclerosis: serial magnetic resonance brain imaging over six months.

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Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Eight patients in the chronic progressive stage of multiple sclerosis were studied prospectively with magnetic resonance imaging of the head and neurological examination every 2 weeks for 6 months. There were no clinical relapses and disability ratings did not change between the start and completion of the study. Despite the clinical inactivity, a total of 86 active events (new, reappearing, or enlarging lesions) were identified by magnetic resonance imaging over the 6 months, with 50 (51%) of 98 follow-up scans showing evidence of one or more active lesions. New and changing lesions were indistinguishable in appearance, distribution, and temporal pattern from those previously seen in patients who had relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis. However, as noted previously, the patients in the chronic progressive stage had many more confluent lesions than did the group in relapse. These results strongly suggest that the frequently observed clinical evolution of multiple sclerosis into a chronic progressive course is not accompanied by a fundamental change in the disease process. In fact the chronic progressive stage seems associated with more active changes demonstrated by scans than does relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis. This study also confirms our previous experience that serial magnetic resonance imaging is much more sensitive than clinical examination in detecting disease activity in multiple sclerosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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