Magnano, Immacolata and Pes, Giovanni Mario and Pilurzi, Giovanna and Cabboi, Maria Paola and Ginatempo, Francesca and Giaconi, Elena and Tolu, Eusebio and Achene, Antonio and Salis, Antonio and Rothwell, John C. and Conti, Maurizio and Deriu, Franca (2014) Exploring brainstem function in multiple sclerosis by combining brainstem reflexes, evoked potentials, clinical and MRI investigations. Clinical Neurophysiology, Vol. 125 (11), p. 2286-2296. ISSN 1388-2457. Article.
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Objective: To investigate vestibulo-masseteric (VMR), acoustic-masseteric (AMR), vestibulo-collic (VCR) and trigemino-collic (TCR) reflexes in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS); to relate abnormalities of brainstem reflexes (BSRs) to multimodal evoked potentials (EPs), clinical and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) findings.
Methods: Click-evoked VMR, AMR and VCR were recorded from active masseter and sternocleidomastoid muscles, respectively; TCR was recorded from active sternocleidomastoid muscles, following electrical stimulation of the infraorbital nerve. EPs and MRI were performed with standard techniques.
Results: Frequencies of abnormal BSRs were: VMR 62.1%, AMR 55.1%, VCR 25.9%, TCR 58.6%. Brainstem dysfunction was identified by these tests, combined into a four-reflex battery, in 86.9% of cases, by EPs in 82.7%, MRI in 71.7% and clinical examination in 37.7% of cases. The sensitivity of paired BSRs/EPs (93.3%) was significantly higher than combined MRI/clinical testing (70%) in patients with disease duration ≤6.4 years. BSR alterations significantly correlated with clinical, EP and MRI findings.
Conclusions: The four-BSR battery effectively increases the performance of standard EPs in early detection of brainstem impairment, otherwise undetected by clinical examination and neuroimaging.
Significance: Multiple BSR assessment usefully supplements conventional testing and monitoring of brainstem function in MS, especially in newly diagnosed patients.
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