Medical Q&As

MRI scan - diagnosis of MS?

I have a " virus " in my legs and spine for the last 3 years. I was on crutches for 18 months. I have the occasional relapse where I have severe pins and needles and a shaking sensation in my legs. I had a few MRI scans but as far as I am aware they were looking for tumours. They didnít find any. I have no idea how this originally happened; nobody was able to find out why. This happened while I was abroad and one doctor did mention MS to me. My aunt died two months ago from MS and it is only since her death that I have started to read up on the illness and to my surprise I have found a few similarities with my symptoms. My main worry is that when I had the MRIs would MS have shown up on it even if they hadnít been looking for it?

MRI scans are very useful in detecting demyelenation, which is the key pathological event in MS. Demyelenation means that the myelin sheath has been destroyed, myelin being a sleeve of fatty material that envelopes each strand of nerve tissue. An MRI scan can reveal areas of demyelenation that are not demonstrable with other imaging techniques such as CAT scans. However, it is estimated that approximately 5% of people with definite clinical evidence of MS do not have demonstrable lesions on an MRI scan. It is also important to state that the absence of demyelenation does not eliminate the possibility of MS. You say that you had several MRI scans, which suggests to me that if demyelenation were present it would have been noticed on one of the scans at least. I would also caution against comparing your symptoms with a description of MS symptoms in a book. MS can have several symptoms in common with other neurological conditions so you may be attributing too much significance to one set of symptoms and not enough significance to others. I would suggest that you discuss your concerns about MS with your GP and specifically address the possibility that you might have it.