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Neurology. 1993 May;43(5):905-9.

Assessment of MRI criteria for a diagnosis of MS.

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Department of Neurology, Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria.


To test the reliability of four previously proposed MRI criteria for the diagnosis of MS, we reviewed 1,500 consecutive brain scans for the presence, number, size, and location of areas of increased signal (AIS) on proton-density and T2-weighted images, unaware of the patients' clinical presentations and ages. This series included 134 subjects with a clinical diagnosis of MS. Relying exclusively on the presence of at least three or four AIS for a positive diagnosis of MS resulted in high sensitivity (90% for three AIS and 87% for four) but inadequate specificity (71% for three AIS and 74% for four) and positive predictive value (23% for three AIS and 25% for four). If one of these lesions was required to border the lateral ventricles, specificity was 92% and positive predictive value was 50% at a sensitivity of 87%. Using the Fazekas criteria (at least three AIS and two of the following features: abutting body of lateral ventricles, infratentorial lesion location, and size > 5 mm) led to a further highly significant improvement of specificity (96%; p = 0.0000) and increase of the positive predictive value (65%) at the expense of a less significant decrease in sensitivity (81%; p < 0.01).

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