MS Answers

Diagnosis and Types of MS
Answered on: 3/10/2010

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Q :

Can MS lesions change in size over time? Do they grow or shrink, or do they stay the same?

A :

Thank you for your question.

Brain disease analysis is complex, rich in imaging media, and in need of analytical tools and critical interpretation.

The 'simple and short' answer is YES, MS lesions can change in size over time, they may grow or shrink, or even stay the same sometimes.

I hope a little more information can help here... Although changes in MS lesions on conventional T2-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are often used to monitor the effect of treatment in clinical trials, there is no clear definition of how MS lesions change over time according to the lesion load present at a baseline evaluation. There is no real clinical application to monitoring lesion changes and there is very poor, if any, correlation between changes on conventional MRI scans and long term clinical outcomes. In fact, one of the fundamental problems that a model should solve is 'change detection'. Differences in technology, methodology and even the biology of the same individual can sometimes lead to artificial (artefactual) changes with no significance or real meaning for the patient or his/her doctor at the time of making diagnostic or therapeutic decisions at the bedside.

Although this field of research has developed in a very rapid and substantial fashion in the last 1-2 decades, further work is required to develop additional forms of abstracted data to facilitate collaboration and interpretation of these images, to incorporate other scan types, and to incorporate additional biological assays of relevance.

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DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that this information does not necessarily represent the opinion of the MS Society of Canada, and is not intended as medical advice. For specific advice and opinion, always consult a physician.