A randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of high-dose, pulsed intravenous methylprednisolone was carried out in 50 individuals with multiple sclerosis; 22 patients were in acute relapse and 28 had chronic progressive disease. After a baseline assessment using the Kurtzke functional and expanded disability status scales each patient was randomly allocated to intravenous treatment with methylprednisolone (500 mg) or a saline placebo administered as a single daily dose for 5 days. Clinical assessments were repeated at 1 and 4 weeks after starting treatment. The results from all 50 patients showed a highly significant effect in favour of methylprednisolone treatment (p less than 0.001). In patients with relapse, there was a significant decrease in clinical disability scores at 1 and 4 weeks in the methylprednisolone treated group compared with controls (p less than 0.05 for each comparison). In the chronic progressive group, disability scores at 4 weeks only were significantly lower after treatment with methylprednisolone (p less than 0.01), mainly attributable to improvement in pyramidal function.
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