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U.S. News & World Report: Many Misdiagnosed With MS

U.S. News & World Report recently wrote about a new Cedars-Sinai study that suggests nearly 18 percent of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before being referred to two major Los Angeles medical centers for treatment actually had been misdiagnosed with the autoimmune disease.

“I've seen patients suffering side effects from the medication they were taking for a disease they didn't have,” lead investigator Marwa Kaisey, MD, said in the U.S. News & World Report article. “Meanwhile, they weren't getting treatment for what they did have. The cost to the patient is huge -- medically, psychologically, financially.”

In the retrospective study, researchers from Cedars-Sinai, UCLA and the University of Vermont analyzed the cases of 241 patients who had been diagnosed by other physicians and then referred to the Cedars-Sinai or UCLA clinics over the course of a year.

Investigators sought to determine how many patients were misdiagnosed with MS and identify common characteristics among those who had been given the wrong diagnoses.

The most common correct diagnosis among the patients misdiagnosed with MS was migraine (16%), followed by radiologically isolated syndrome, a condition in which patients do not experience symptoms of MS even though their imaging tests look similar to those of MS patients. Other correct diagnoses included nerve damage and a disorder of the vertebrae called spondylopathy, the findings showed.

Among the patients misdiagnosed with MS, 72 percent had been prescribed MS treatments. Of those, 48 percent received therapies that can carry the risk of a viral infection-caused disease in the white matter of the brain (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy).

The researchers estimated that the unnecessary treatments given to the misdiagnosed patients in this study alone cost nearly $10 million.

“The diagnosis of MS is tricky. Both the symptoms and MRI testing results can look like other conditions, such as stroke, migraines and vitamin B12 deficiency,” Kaisey said.

Click here to read the complete U.S. News & World Report article. 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: MS and Pregnancy