Measuring evoked responses in multiple sclerosis

Giancarlo Comi, Letizia Leocani, Stefania Medaglini, Tiziana Locatelli, Vittorio Martinelli, Giuseppe Santuccio, Paolo Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evoked potentials (EPs) have been widely utilised in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients to demonstrate the involvement of sensory and motor pathways. Their diagnostic value is based on the ability to reveal clinically silent lesions and to objectivate the central nervous system damage in patients who complain frequently of vogue and indefinite disturbances which frequently occurs in the early phases of the disease. The advent of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques has greatly reduced the clinical utilisation of EPs, which is not fully justifiable, as the information provided by EPs are quite different from those provided by MRI. The abnormalities of evoked responses reflect the global damage of the evoked nervous pathway and are significantly correlated with the clinical findings, while the vast majority of MRI lesions are not associated to symptoms and signs. Transversal and longitudinal studies have demonstrated that EP changes in MS are more strictly related to disability than MRI lesion burden. On the contrary, MRI is more sensitive than EPs in revealing the disease activity. Evoked responses modifications observed in MS are not disease-specific, moreover longitudinal studies showed latency and morphology changes of evoked responses not always related to clinical changes. Such a dissociation can be explained both by technical factors and by subclinical disease activity. To reduce the negative impact of technical aspects, only reproducible parameters of the evoked responses should be used to monitor disease evolution and therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-267
Number of pages5
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999


  • Auditory evoked potentials
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Prognosis
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials
  • Visual evoked potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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