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Transcranial magnetic stimulation: Role in the evaluation of disability in multiple sclerosis

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Author(s): Sahota Preeti | Prabhakar Sudesh | Lal Vivek | Khurana Dheeraj | Das Chandi | Singh Parampreet

Journal: Neurology India
ISSN 0028-3886

Volume: 53;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 197;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: Magnetic stimulation | central motor conduction | motor evoked potential | pyramidal dysfunction

ABSTRACT
Background: In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has shown significant prolongation of central motor conduction time (CMCT). Abnormal CMCT may reflect sub-clinical involvement of motor pathways and correlate with clinical motor disability. Objective: To determine the diagnostic yield of TMS in MS and the possible correlation of TMS abnormalities with clinical disability. Materials and Methods: Thirty patients with clinically definite MS presenting in acute relapse or with progressive disease course and 30 healthy controls were evaluated. TMS parameters evaluated included threshold intensity, motor evoked potentials (MEP) amplitudes and latencies and CMCT. Reassessment studies were done after three months. Statistical analysis: Student t-test, Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman′s rank correlation test were used to assess the relationships. Results: Patients with MS had significantly higher threshold intensities, prolonged CMCT and reduced MEP amplitudes as compared to controls. Abnormalities in at least one parameter were observed in 86.7% of patients. When inter-side asymmetries in MEP latency and/or in CMCT were considered, the diagnostic yield increased to 96.7%. The diagnostic yield was 74.7% for visual evoked potentials, 13.3% for brainstem auditory evoked response and 10% for cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal band. One MS patient without pyramidal or cerebellar dysfunction had prolonged CMCT. CMCT abnormalities correlated significantly with the degree of pyramidal signs, limb ataxia, intention tremor, dysdiadokokinesia and overall cerebellar score. In patients who had clinical improvement, follow-up studies showed improvement in CMCT parameters. Conclusion: TMS is a highly sensitive technique to evaluate cortico-spinal conduction abnormalities in MS that may have no clinical correlate and in monitoring the course of the disease. The effects of cerebellar dysfunction on TMS results need further evaluation.

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