The 2016 Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis (MAGNIMS) criteria showed accuracy similar to that of the 2010 McDonald criteria in predicting the development of clinically definite multiple sclerosis, a retrospective study found.

“Among the different modifications proposed, our results support removal of the distinction between symptomatic and asymptomatic lesions, which simplifies the clinical use of MRI criteria, and suggest that further consideration is given to increasing the number of lesions needed to define periventricular involvement from one to three, because this might slightly increase specificity,” wrote researchers led by Massimo Filippi, MD. The report was published Dec. 21, 2017, in The Lancet Neurology . “Further effort is still needed to improve cortical lesion assessment and more studies should be done to evaluate the effect of including optic nerve assessment as an additional DIS [dissemination in space] criterion.”

In an effort to guide revisions of MS diagnostic criteria, Dr. Filippi and other members of the MAGNIMS network compared the performance of the 2010 McDonald and 2016 MAGNIMS criteria for MS in a cohort of 368 patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) who were screened between June 16, 1995, and Jan. 27, 2017. They used a time-dependent receiver operating characteristic curve analysis to evaluate MRI criteria performance for DIS, DIT [dissemination in time], and DIS plus DIT. Changes to the DIS definition contained in the 2016 MAGNIMS criteria included removal of the distinction between symptomatic and asymptomatic lesions, increasing the number of lesions needed to define periventricular involvement to three, combining cortical and juxtacortical lesions, and inclusion of optic nerve evaluation. For DIT, removal of the distinction between symptomatic and asymptomatic lesions was suggested.

Dr. Filippi, of the neuroimaging research unit in the division of neuroscience at San Raffaele Scientific Institute at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, and his coauthors at eight centers reported that of the 368 patients, 189 (51%) developed clinically definite MS at the last evaluation, which occurred at a median of 50 months. At 36 months, DIS alone showed high sensitivity in the 2010 McDonald and 2016 MAGNIMS criteria (91% vs. 93%, respectively), similar specificity (33% vs. 32%), and similar area under the curve values (AUC, 0.62 vs. 0.63). Inclusion of symptomatic lesions did not alter performance. The researchers also found that requiring three periventricular lesions reduced sensitivity to 85% and increased specificity to 40%, but did not affect AUC values (it stood at 0.63). When optic nerve evaluation was included, sensitivity was similar (92%), while specificity fell to 26% and AUC dropped to 0.59.

The 2016 MAGNIMS and 2010 McDonald criteria achieved similar sensitivity, specificity, and AUC values when compared on the performance of DIT criteria and DIS plus DIT criteria.

“For both sets of criteria, specificity was lower than that of previous studies that evaluated the diagnostic performance of the 2010 McDonald criteria,” the authors wrote. “Several factors could help explain our findings, including the different follow-up durations, the statistical methods (e.g., using a time-to-event analysis in our study), and the effect of treatment, which might have delayed or prevented the occurrence of the second attack during the study period.” They acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including its retrospective design and the fact that patients were recruited in highly specialized centers, which may have resulted in the selection of patients at higher risk of conversion to clinically definite multiple sclerosis.

The study was funded by the U.K. MS Society, the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, and the Dutch MS Research Foundation. The authors reported having numerous financial disclosures with the pharmaceutical industry.

SOURCE: Filippi M et al., Lancet Neurol. 2017 Dec 21. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(17)30469-6 .