Comparative brain stem lesions on MRI of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, neuromyelitis optica, and multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

Background: Brain stem lesions are common in patients with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), neuromyelitis optica (NMO), and multiple sclerosis (MS). Objectives: To investigate comparative brain stem lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) among adult patients with ADEM, NMO, and MS. Methods: Sixty-five adult patients with ADEM (n = 17), NMO (n = 23), and MS (n = 25) who had brain stem lesions on MRI were enrolled. Morphological features of brain stem lesions among these diseases were assessed. Results: Patients with ADEM had a higher frequency of midbrain lesions than did patients with NMO (94.1% vs. 17.4%, P<0.001) and MS (94.1% vs. 40.0%, P<0.001); patients with NMO had a lower frequency of pons lesions than did patients with MS (34.8% vs. 84.0%, P<0.001) and ADEM (34.8% vs. 70.6%, P = 0.025); and patients with NMO had a higher frequency of medulla oblongata lesions than did patients with ADEM (91.3% vs. 35.3%, P<0.001) and MS (91.3% vs. 36.0%, P<0.001). On the axial section of the brain stem, the majority (82.4%) of patients with ADEM showed lesions on the ventral part; the brain stem lesions in patients with NMO were typically located in the dorsal part (91.3%); and lesions in patients with MS were found in both the ventral (44.0%) and dorsal (56.0%) parts. The lesions in patients with ADEM (100%) and NMO (91.3%) had poorly defined margins, while lesions of patients with MS (76.0%) had well defined margins. Brain stem lesions in patients with ADEM were usually bilateral and symmetrical (82.4%), while lesions in patients with NMO (87.0%) and MS (92.0%) were asymmetrical or unilateral. Conclusions: Brain stem lesions showed various morphological features among adult patients with ADEM, NMO, and MS. The different lesion locations may be helpful in distinguishing these diseases. © 2011 Lu et al.

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Lu, Z., Zhang, B., Qiu, W., Kang, Z., Shen, L., Long, Y., … Hu, X. (2011). Comparative brain stem lesions on MRI of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, neuromyelitis optica, and multiple sclerosis. PLoS ONE, 6(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0022766

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