New Survey Finds Physicians Seek More Clarity In MS Diagnosis And Management

A new survey shows that seven in 10 U.S. neurologists who treat multiple sclerosis believe the current definitions used to classify MS patients -- from the least to the most severe -- fail to adequately address the diagnosis and management of patients in each of the disease categories.

Results of the national survey, conducted by Louis Harris & Associates,were presented at a recent University of Maryland-sponsored consensus conference of neurologists and other MS experts designed to reassess and redefine the natural history -- or classification -- of the various stages of the debilitating disease.

Of those physicians surveyed, 36 percent said the definitions used to classify MS patients, based on symptoms and progression of disease, were too vague. As a result, many people with MS may not be diagnosed or treated appropriately, and risk progressing more rapidly to a more serious disease state.

"MS specialists and opinion leaders need to take more of a leading role in guiding the community-based neurologists to ensure that everyone treating MS is up-to-date with the current science," said Kenneth P. Johnson, MD, professor and chairman of Neurology, at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and director, Maryland Center for Multiple Sclerosis. "Neurologists need to better understand the present research trends, specifically as they relate to classifying, diagnosing and treating MS patients.

"A better understanding of the classifications of MS subgroups, and refinement of methods for measuring disease activity, will enable us to have a more objective and accurate assessment of the disease, and help us tailor treatment to a patient's disease course."

While 98 percent of all neurologists surveyed consider themselves "very" familiar with the clinical aspects of diagnosing MS, somewhat fewer are as familiar with managing the symptoms (84 percent), tracking MS disease progression (77 percent), or treating the actual disease,

Contact: Ellen Beth Levitt
University of Maryland Medical Center

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