Brainstem lesions in clinically isolated syndromes
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Background: Number of baseline lesions has been shown to predict future attacks and disability in clinically isolated syndromes (CIS). Objective: To investigate the role of baseline infratentorial lesions in long-term prognosis. Methods: Subjects were included in a prospective cohort of patients with CIS. Patients underwent brain MRI within 3 months after CIS onset. Number and location of lesions at baseline were prospectively studied. Retrospective scan analysis was conducted to specifically look at number and location of infratentorial lesions. We analyzed the time to a second attack and to reach EDSS 3.0. Results: We included 246 patients with CIS followed for a median of 7.7 years. Patients with infratentorial lesions had both a higher risk of conversion (71.4% vs 29.6%; hazard ratio [HR] 3.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.2-4.8; p < 0.001) and of developing disability (32.5% vs 12.4%; HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.3-4.3; p = 0.003). Presence of at least one cerebellar lesion was associated with an increased risk of conversion (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.3-4.5; p = 0.007). Presence of at least one brainstem lesion increased both the risk of conversion (HR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7-5.0; p < 0.001) and disability (HR 2.5; 95% CI 1.1-5.4; p = 0.026). Broken down into number of lesions, the presence of infratentorial lesions increased both the risk of conversion (83% vs 61%) (HR 22.3; 95% CI 9.7-51.1; p < 0.001) and of reaching EDSS 3.0 (40% vs 19%) (HR 3.2; 95% CI 1.3-7.4; p = 0.008) only in patients with 9 or more lesions. Conclusions: Presence of infratentorial lesions increases the risk for disability. Brainstem rather than cerebellar lesions may be responsible for poor prognosis. Copyright © 2010 by AAN Enterprises, Inc.