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How Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) Is Connected to MS


According to the National MS Society, clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) refers to an initial case of neurological symptoms that continue for at least a day. These symptoms are the result of demyelination or inflammation in the central nervous system. The syndrome is either monofocal, in that the person only experiences one symptom such as optic neurosis, or multifocal, where they may experience more than one symptom during the episode.

MORE: Could muscle twitches be a symptom of MS?

Those who experience CIS generally have no fever or infection during the episode and partially or completely recover afterwards.

If a person has a CIS, they have an elevated risk of developing multiple sclerosis. If an MRI scan detects lesions similar to those seen in MS patients, there is a 60 percent to 80 percent chance the person will develop MS over the next few years. These patients are considered high-risk. If no lesions are detected on the MRI, the person has a 20 percent chance of developing MS. These patients are considered low-risk.

Incidents of CIS are (like MS) much higher in women than men, with women twice to three times as likely to have an episode. Seventy percent of those who have a CIS are between 20 and 40 years old.

CIS differs from MS in that CIS is a single neurologic episode whereas MS is multiple neurologic episodes. An MRI scan will show damage in the area of the brain responsible for the symptoms for those with CIS but MS patients will have lesions in several areas. However, if other lesions are found on an MRI scan, it shows that there’s been more than one episode and the person will be diagnosed with MS.

MORE: MSAA helps Sara get an all-important MRI scan.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  1. barbara cleary says:

    wish I coild get another mri scan….I do undrrstand I am elderly, 82, but feel god, and want to work, I have to work, to keep myself going…I sort out all my medications,i am oin anti bioitics at the well as steroids abd morhine..I have soi many symptom s… I know I have all the sympotoms, but doctors, etc. just look at me and shake their head, no no I haven’t…but I have had some symptoms all my life nearly..i have made friends with people who have ms…I feel good in theior copany..nok oine else wants to know me now.! I used to run my own secretsarial business for over 55 years…I can hardly type nokw..and my eyes are affected, this is the lsatest, they are blurry..sorry I can hardly type this..yes, I am old…I do know that..anyone else like this? MS strikes earlier in life, I hear..40 – 60 years of age..i am female..i feel I want to organise things, but of course being elderly I am told I asm bossy, etcc..I try to stsay calm..i am nokt bossy, but do have my own ways obviously…having hd a business..all for now..if you can decipher this.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience and circumstance with us Barbara. We know the struggle is hard for people with MS… and those who have not yet been diaganosed, but persevere without any treatments or medications. Keep moving forward and holding to your positivity!

  2. Bonnie McCain says:

    When I first saw the title I thought it meant the type of isolation many of us with MS suffer from – having minimal contact or little in common with others. lol

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