Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Revises MRI Guidelines

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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MRI guidelines updated

The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers has updated guidelines for using magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate people suspected of having multiple sclerosis.

Doctors use the MRI guidelines not only to diagnose MS but also to track treatment results.

A task force is reviewing the new guidelines before they’re published. The working document is called  “Revised Guidelines of the CMSC MRI Protocol for the Diagnosis and Follow-up of MS.”

The task force, composed of neurologists, radiologists and imaging scientists experienced in MS, met in January 2017 to revise the guidelines. They also updated information about the situations for which standardized brain and spinal cord MRI scans should be used.

One change is a recommendation that gadolinium, a contrast agent in scans, be used cautiously.

The previous update, published in 2015, included no constraints on the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents. But soon after publication, information emerged showing that gadolinium, although not toxic, accumulates in the brain. This prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recommend limiting the use of gadolinium to “appropriate clinical circumstances.”

To mirror the increased awareness of gadolinium deposits, the new guidelines say: “While there is no known central nervous system toxicity, these agents should be used judiciously, recognizing that gadolinium continues to play an invaluable role in specific circumstances related to the diagnosis and follow-up of individuals with MS.”

Since 2009, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers has addressed a number of other issues. One is encouraging the use of three-dimensional MRI for brain scans. Another is developing protocols for monitoring severe optic nerve inflammation and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, a brain disease caused by a virus.

The guidelines have been revised to recommend the specific timing of scans for monitoring PML. The update also includes recommendations for the timing of scans on patients receiving disease-modifying drugs.

Since 2009, the guidelines have included recommendations on scans of radiologic isolated syndrome, a condition where MS-like MRI lesions are present without symptoms. And they have included provisions on the value of using MRI changes to evaluate treatment effectiveness.

The centers’ goal “is to standardize the MRI protocol and make these recommendations a useful guideline for neurologists, neuroradiologists, and related healthcare professionals during initial evaluations and during follow-up of patients with MS, and ultimately provide optimum care for those individuals dealing with this unpredictable disease,” June Halper, the centers’ chief executive officer, said in a press release.


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