Recurrence and prognostic value of asymptomatic spinal cord lesions in multiple sclerosis

Camilla Ostini, Francesca Bovis, Giulio Disanto, Paolo Ripellino, Emanuele Pravatà, Rosaria Sacco, Giovanna Padlina, Maria Pia Sormani, Claudio Gobbi, Chiara Zecca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is currently not recommended for the routine monitoring of clinically stable multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. We aimed to investigate the occurrence of asymptomatic spinal lesions (a-SL) in clinically stable MS patients, and their association with clinical and radiological outcomes, including the recurrence of spinal lesions. The hospital MS registry was searched for clinically stable MS patients (no relapses, no disability progression) with spinal MRIs performed at T1 (baseline) and T2 (9-36 months after T1). Information on relapses, disability and new brain/spinal MRI lesions at T3 (≥6 months after T2) was collected and analyzed. Out of 300 MS patients, 45 showed a-SL between T1 and T2. The presence of a-SL was not associated with the subsequent occurrence of relapses or disability progression at T3, but did correlate with the risk of new brain (rate ratio (RR) = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.16-2.25, p = 0.003) and recurrent spinal lesions (RR = 7.28, 95% CI = 4.02-13.22, p < 0.0001). Accounting for asymptomatic brain lesions (a-BL), the presence of either a-BL or a-SL was associated with subsequent risk for new brain (OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.25-2.60, p = 0.001) or spinal (RR = 2.63, 95% CI = 1.27-5.45, p = 0.009) lesions. Asymptomatic spinal demyelinating lesions occurred in 15% of clinically stable MS patients within a median period of 14 months and conferred an increased risk of future radiological activity at the brain and spinal level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number463
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Asymptomatic
  • MRI
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Prediction
  • Spinal lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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