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Is the frequency of abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging in isolated optic neuritis related to the prevalence of multiple sclerosis? A global comparison
  1. J K Swanton1,
  2. K Fernando1,
  3. C M Dalton1,
  4. K A Miszkiel2,
  5. A J Thompson1,
  6. G T Plant3,
  7. D H Miller1
  1. 1NMR Research Unit, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Neuroradiology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London
  3. 3Neuro-ophthalmology Service, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
  1. Correspondence to:
 J K Swanton
 NMR Research Unit, Institute of Neurology, University College London, Queen Square, London, UK;j.swanton{at}


The link between optic neuritis and multiple sclerosis is well established, as is the increased risk of conversion to multiple sclerosis, with lesions seen at presentation on the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain. One or more asymptomatic lesions were present in 77% of the optic neuritis cohort from London, UK, a higher proportion than that reported in other large cohorts studied elsewhere, where generally lower prevalence rates for multiple sclerosis are also reported. These observations may support the hypothesis that optic neuritis is more likely to be associated with abnormalities on MRI and to be due to multiple sclerosis in geographical regions where multiple sclerosis is more common.

  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • ONTT, Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial

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  • Competing interests: DHM received grant support from Biogen Idec, Elan, Schering and GlaxoSmithKline for performance of MRI analyses in clinical trials; honoraria for advisory or consultancy work, lectures and related travel and accommodation expenses from Aventis, Biogen Idec, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Schering, Serono, UCB Pharma and Wyeth. KF received salary support from Biogen Idec. CMD received salary support from Elan. GTP received travel and accommodation expenses from Alcon. AJT received honoraria for lecturing from Aventis and Schering. The above-mentioned organisations did not participate in any aspect of the study design, execution, analysis or write up.

  • Published Online First 22 June 2006