Thursday, November 17, 2011

National SickKids-led study finds new way to predict MS diagnosis in children

National SickKids-led study finds new way to predict MS diagnosis in children
TORONTO - Early MRI scans can help predict the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) in children, which may permit earlier initiation of treatment, according to a new national study. The study was led by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and was performed as a part of the Canadian Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Network, a 23-site study that includes all paediatric health-care facilities in Canada. The study is published in the November 7 advance online edition of Lancet Neurology.
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. People with MS develop lesions (patches of inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS)) in which the neurons have been stripped of their myelin (insulating fatty protein).
In this study, the investigators created a rigorous scoring tool that was applied to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from paediatric patients following their first acute CNS demyelinating attack.
An acute CNS demyelinating attack could involve a variety of symptoms, including loss of vision, tingling in lower limbs, inability to walk, loss of balance or even paralysis. Previously, established criteria have required clinicians to wait until the occurrence of a second attack to make the diagnosis of MS. A second attack could occur as early as a month after the initial attack or many years later. Although the time to a second attack may take months to years, ongoing disease activity occurs even between attacks. Identifying children with MS through analysis of MRI scans obtained at the first acute attack can lead to rapid diagnosis and to an opportunity to offer treatment even before a second attack.
Dr. Brenda Banwell, Principal Investigator of the study, Staff Neurologist and Senior Associate Scientist at SickKids, notes that while MRI has been used on adults in this manner, “this is the first time anyone has applied an MRI scoring tool to MRI scans from a population of at-risk paediatric patients. The study demonstrates...read more

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