Radiologically isolated syndrome

Radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) is defined by MRI findings suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS) in asymptomatic ("clinically silent") patients. Radiological progression usually occurs in approximately 66% of patients with RIS, while ~33% per 5-year-period will subsequently develop neurological symptoms 1,3.

The incidental detection of brain and/or spinal cord lesions compatible with multiple sclerosis (MS) (as defined by the 2010 McDonald criteria) in MRI studies performed for other indications than demyelinating disorders is referred to as radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS). Development of neurological symptoms in patients with RIS is called conversion.

While the phenomenon of an asymptomatic, subclinical or clinically silent disease state of MS, incidentally discovered on autopsy and later imaging studies, has long been known, the extensive availability of MRI has lead to a significant number of studies performed for indications other than inflammatory demyelinating disorders of the CNS, giving rise to this newly defined syndrome.

While the exact prevalence is unknown owing to its incidental nature, RIS is the most common type of asymptomatic multiple sclerosis 3. One large retrospective cohort study stated prevalence as low as 0.05% 4. Prevalence might be higher in relatives to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis 6.

As stated above, radiological progression has been shown to occur in ~66% of patients with RIS. While the conversion rate roughly equates to 33% per 5-year-period, a significant number of patients will not subsequently develop multiple sclerosis.

Due to absence of clear risk factors defining clinical conversion and lack of current evidence usually no treatment is initiated.

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Article information

rID: 32931
Section: Syndromes
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS)

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