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Review: magnetic resonance imaging alone is of limited usefulness in diagnosing multiple sclerosis

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 Q How accurate is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Clinical impact ratings IM/Ambulatory care ★★★★★☆☆ Internal medicine ★★★★★☆☆ Neurology ★★★★★☆☆


Embedded ImageData sources:

12 electronic databases (to September or November 2004), reference lists, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence MS guidelines.

Embedded ImageStudy selection and assessment:

published and unpublished studies in any language that evaluated the accuracy of MRI for early diagnosis of MS in patients presenting with suspected disease. 18 prospective cohort studies (n = 2102) and 11 studies of other designs (mainly case control, n = 2527) met the selection criteria. The Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) criteria were used to assess quality of individual studies.

Embedded ImageOutcomes:

sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios (LRs), and diagnostic odds ratio (OR) (the odds of positivity in people with MS, divided by the odds of positivity in …

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  • For correspondence: Dr P Whiting, MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Bristol, UK. penny.whiting{at}

  • Source of funding: no external funding.