HealthDay News — Nearly 1 in 5 patients referred to a multiple sclerosis specialty center are misdiagnosed, according to a study published in the May issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Marwa Kaisey, MD, from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed the incidence of MS misdiagnosis in 241 new patients referred to 2 academic MS referral centers as well as factors associated with misdiagnosis.

The researchers found that of the 241 new patients referred with an established diagnosis of MS, 17% at Cedars-Sinai and 19% at the University of California, Los Angeles, had been misdiagnosed. Migraine (16%), radiologically isolated syndrome (9%), spondylopathy (7%), and neuropathy (7%) were the most common alternative diagnoses. Misdiagnosis was associated with clinical syndromes and radiographic findings atypical for MS. Approximately 110 patient-years of unnecessary MS disease-modifying therapy had been received in the misdiagnosed group.

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“MS misdiagnosis is common; in our combined cohort, almost 1 in 5 patients who carried an established diagnosis of MS did not fulfill contemporary McDonald Criteria and had a more likely alternate diagnosis,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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