Misdiagnosis of MS is common

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NHE
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Misdiagnosis of MS is common

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Clinical and radiologic characteristics associated with multiple sclerosis misdiagnosis at a tertiary referral center in the United State
Mult Scler. 2023 Oct;29(11-12):1428-1436.

Background: Misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is common and can have harmful effects on patients and healthcare systems. Identification of factors associated with misdiagnosis may aid development of prevention strategies.

Objective: To identify clinical and radiological predictors of MS misdiagnosis.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed medical records of all patients who were referred to Johns Hopkins MS Center from January 2018 to June 2019. Patients who carried a diagnosis of MS were classified as correctly diagnosed or misdiagnosed with MS by the Johns Hopkins clinician. Demographics, clinical, laboratory, and radiologic data were collected. Differences between the two groups were evaluated, and a regression model was constructed to identify predictors of misdiagnosis.

Results: Out of 338 patients who were previously diagnosed with MS, 41 (12%) had been misdiagnosed. An alternative diagnosis was confirmed in 28 (68%) of the misdiagnosed patients; cerebrovascular disease was the most common alternate diagnosis. Characteristics associated with misdiagnosis were female sex (odds ratio (OR): 5.81 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.60, 21.05)) and non-specific brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lesions (OR: 7.66 (3.42, 17.16)).

Conclusion: Misdiagnosis is a frequent problem in MS care. Non-specific brain lesions were the most significant predictor of misdiagnosis. Interventions aimed to reduce over-reliance on imaging findings and misapplication of the McDonald criteria may prevent MS misdiagnosis.
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