Seventeen patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) and mild physical disability had neuropsychological testing, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) using technetium 99m (99mTc) hexamethyl-propyleneamine oxime (HMPAO). Performance in verbal fluency, naming and memory testing appeared to be impaired in MS patients compared with 17 age-sex and education matched normal controls. Weighted periventricular and confluent lesion scores and the width of the third ventricle, proved to be the most sensitive MRI measures in differentiating more cognitively impaired patients from those who were relatively unimpaired. Ratios of regional to whole brain activity, measured by SPECT, showed significant reduction in the frontal lobes and in the left temporal lobe of MS patients. A relationship was found between left temporal abnormality in 99mTc-HMPAO uptake and deficit in verbal fluency and verbal memory. Finally, asymmetrical lobar activity indicated a predominant left rather than right temporo-parietal involvement.
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