Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Diagnostic criteria for MS

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Since the first description of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by Charcot, the Neurological community has been striving to create reliable and reproducible criteria for diagnosis of MS. The first attempts were made by Charcot himself, followed by Marburg and later Allison. The first criteria however were lacking in sensitivity and specificity for clinical use.


The first landmark event in the history of diagnostic criteria for MS was the development of the Schumacher criteria. These were the first internationally recognized criteria for diagnosis of MS and introduced very important diagnostic concepts that are the cornerstone of MS diagnosis nowadays, such as the clinical definition of MS and the requirement of dissemination in time and space for accurate diagnosis.

Since then, other diagnostic criteria have been proposed. Among them, Poser criteria utilized several laboratory and paraclinical studies to enhance the diagnostic accuracy. McDonald criteria, which are the ones used today, successfully introduced MRI findings as surrogates for the criterion of dissemination in time and space when clinical data are lacking, thus allowing earlier diagnosis of MS.

However, the only definite diagnosis of MS is autopsy, where lesions typical of MS can be detected through histopathological techniques.

Schumacher criteria

To get a diagnosis of CDMS a patient must show the following:

  1. Clinical signs of a problem in the CNS
  2. Evidence of two or more areas of CNS involvement
  3. Evidence of white matter involvement
  4. One of these: Two or more relapses (each lasting ≥ 24 hr and separated by at least 1 month) or progression (slow or stepwise)
  5. Patient should be between 10 and 50 yr old at time of examination
  6. No better explanation for patient’s symptoms and signs

The last condition, no better explanation for symptoms, has been heavily criticised, but it has been preserved and it is currently included in the new McDonalds criteria in the form that "no better explanation should exist for MRI observations"

Poser criteria

Poser criteria can be summarized in this table:

Any of the five conclusions have subpossibilities. Here a table is shown with each one of them:

If none of these requirements is accomplished, the diagnosis is "No MS", meaning that there is not enough clinical evidence to support a clinical diagnosis of MS.

Barkhof-Tintoré criteria

Barkhof criteria, later modified by Tintoré were an early attempt to use MRI to diagnose MS.

Their observations were taken into account when McDonald criteria were published, and therefore they can be considered deprecated by the latter.

McDonald criteria

McDonald criteria can be summarize in this table:

Okuda Criteria

Published by D.T.Okuda mainly for research in MS, these criteria define what should be considered a Radiologically Isolated Syndrome (RIS)


Diagnostic criteria for MS Wikipedia

Similar Topics
Franke Previte
Ferhat Çökmüş