BACKGROUND: MRI of the nervous system is the critical in distinguishing pediatric MS from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Our aim was to propose MRI criteria to distinguish MS from monophasic ADEM based on the first MRI and to validate previously proposed MRI criteria.
METHODS: A neuroradiologist undertook retrospective evaluation of the MRI at the first demyelinating event in children (<18 years) with medical record-validated MS and ADEM in Denmark during 2008-15. We used forward stepwise logistic regression to identify MRI categories that differed significantly between MS and ADEM. We estimated accuracy statistics for all MRI criteria to distinguish MS from ADEM.
RESULTS: The monophasic ADEM cohort (n=46) was nationwide and population-based during 2008-15; the median age at onset of 5.3 years (range 0.8‒17.2) and children had at least five years of follow-up to ensure a monophasic disease course. Children with MS (n=67) had a median age at onset of 16.3 years (range 3.3‒17.9). Having at least two categories best distinguished MS from monophasic ADEM by an area under the curve of 83% to 89%: (a) corpus callosum long axis perpendicular lesion; (b) only well-defined lesions; (c) absence of basal ganglia or thalamus lesion OR, (a) corpus callosum long axis perpendicular lesion; (b) only well-defined lesions; (c) absence of diffuse large lesions; (d) black holes. The Callen, KIDMUS, and IPMSSG criteria performed well. The McDonald 2017, Barkhof, MAGNIMS, and Verhey criteria had poorer performance.
CONCLUSION: This study provides Class II evidence that MRI has good performance in differentiating MS from monophasic ADEM at onset.