Experts in multiple sclerosis (MS) have recently recommended changes to the widely used diagnostic criteria for the condition.

The McDonald criteria, first published in 2010, allows diagnosis of MS after one relapse, if an MRI imaging scan shows evidence of damage to the brain through lesions developing. Lately experts have gathered to review the criteria, and in 2017 proposed changes – in the form of updates, rather than amends – which have been published in the Lancet Neurology.

They suggest that diagnosis can also be made if oligoclonal bands are found in a person’s spinal fluid. These bands are groups of antibodies which cluster together, and the presence of two or more bands of different sized antibodies suggests the likelihood of a second relapse. These changes in the criteria should increase the speed and accuracy of an MS diagnosis, and will affect practice around the country.

One of the Neurology Academy’s graduates looked at the effect on practice that these changes in criteria might have as part of his MS MasterClass intermodule research project. He noted that this change in the McDonald criteria meant he was using lumbar punctures to support diagnosis more and more.

To find out more about the McDonald’s criteria and the changes proposed to it, visit MS Brain Health.

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