Neuropsychological and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diagnostics in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

Iris-Katharina Penner, Achim Gass, Herbert Schreiber, Mike Peter Wattjes

Article ID: 1752
Vol 5, Issue 2, 2022

VIEWS - 404 (Abstract) 184 (PDF)


Background: Multiple sclerosis is often a longitudinal disease continuum with an initial relapsing-remitting phase (RRMS) and later secondary progression (SPMS). Most currently approved therapies are not sufficiently effective in SPMS. Early detection of SPMS conversion is therefore critical for therapy selection. Important decision-making tools may include testing of partial cognitive performance and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Aim of the work: To demonstrate the importance of cognitive testing and MRI for the prediction and detection of SPMS conversion. Elaboration of strategies for follow-up and therapy management in practice, especially in outpatient care. Material and methods: Review based on an unsystematic literature search. Results: Standardized cognitive testing can be helpful for early SPMS diagnosis and facilitate progression assessment. Annual use of sensitive screening tests such as Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) and Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R) or the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS (BICAMS) test battery is recommended. Persistent inflammatory activity on MRI in the first three years of disease and the presence of cortical lesions are predictive of SPMS conversion. Standardized MRI monitoring for features of progressive MS can support clinically and neurocognitively based suspicion of SPMS. Discussion: Interdisciplinary care of MS patients by clinically skilled neurologists, supported by neuropsychological testing and MRI, has a high value for SPMS prediction and diagnosis. The latter allows early conversion to appropriate therapies, as SPMS requires different interventions than RRMS. After drug switching, clinical, neuropsychological, and imaging vigilance allows stringent monitoring for neuroinflammatory and degenerative activity as well as treatment complications.


Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis; Cognition; Imaging; Magnetic Resonance Mography; Clinical Diagnosis

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