Could Better Training Prevent Multiple Sclerosis Misdiagnosis?
Medical Xpress, a health and medical news website, released a report at the end of August detailing the results of a study about multiple sclerosis misdiagnosis. According to the study’s results, which were published in Neurology, a medical journal, doctors and hospitals often misdiagnose other conditions as MS.
The 24 researchers behind this study are each neurologists who specialize in working with MS patients. The neurologists work at several different institutions, including the Mayo Clinic, University of Vermont, Oregon Health & Science University and Washington University. During the study, the neurologists were able to discover 110 cases of MS misdiagnosis.
The immune systems of people with multiple sclerosis do not respond the same way as the immune systems of those without MS. The immune systems of people with MS target the covering around nerve fibers, which interrupts the connection between the brain and the rest of the body. Eventually, MS can lead to deterioration of the nerves and permanent optic nerve, spinal cord and brain damage. It is believed that MS is the result of a combination of environmental and gene triggers.
There is no blood or biomarker test to accurately diagnose MS. In addition, the damage that multiple sclerosis does to the nerves can lead to a large variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are associated with other conditions besides MS. The ailments that are most commonly misdiagnosed as MS according to the study include:
- Unexplained symptoms coupled with MRIs
- Migraine Headaches
- Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD)
- Various Psychological Conditions
According to the study, 72 percent of patients who were misdiagnosed with MS had been taking medication to treat the condition even though they did not actually have multiple sclerosis. In addition, many patients, 33 percent in fact, remained misdiagnosed for 10 years or longer.
How Additional Training Could Help Stop Multiple Sclerosis Misdiagnosis
Researchers found that the people in the study were misdiagnosed by both general practitioners and neurologists who specialize in caring for MS patients. They believe that these types of misdiagnoses can be prevented through increased training. Doctors must learn how to properly carry out MS diagnosis and to better recognize the signs of multiple sclerosis misdiagnosis.