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Multimodal evoked potentials to assess the evolution of multiple sclerosis: a longitudinal study


Background: Evoked potentials are used in the functional assessment of sensory and motor pathways. Their usefulness in monitoring the evolution of multiple sclerosis has not been fully clarified.

Objective: The aim of this longitudinal study was to examine the usefulness of multimodal evoked potential in predicting paraclinical outcomes of disease severity and as a prognostic marker in multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Eighty four patients with clinically definite multiple sclerosis underwent Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and functional system scoring at study entry and after a mean (standard deviation) follow-up of 30.5 (11.7) months. Sensory and motor evoked potentials were obtained in all patients at study entry and at follow-up in 64 of them, and quantified according to a conventional score.

Results: Cross-sectionally, the severity of each evoked potential score significantly correlated with the corresponding functional system (0.32<R<0.60, p<0.01, for all but follow-up visual evoked potential) and with EDSS (0.34<R<0.61; p<0.001 for all but brain stem evoked potential). EDSS significantly correlated with global evoked potential score severity (baseline R = 0.60, follow-up R = 0.46, p<0.001). Using longitudinal analysis, only changes in somatosensory evoked potential scores were significantly correlated with changes of sensory functional system (R = 0.34, p = 0.006). However, patients with multiple sclerosis with disability progression at follow-up had more severe baseline evoked potential scores than patients who remained stable. Patients with severe baseline global evoked potential score (higher than the median value) had a risk of 72.5% to progress on disability at follow-up, whereas patients with multiple sclerosis with lower scores had a risk of only 36.3%.

Conclusions: These results suggest that evoked potential is a good marker of the severity of nervous damage in multiple sclerosis and may have a predictive value regarding the evolution of disability.

  • BAEP, brain stem auditory evoked potential
  • EDSS, Expanded Disability Status Scale
  • MEP, motor evoked potential
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • SEP, somatosensory evoked potential
  • VEP, visual evoked potential

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