Baseline Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Optic Nerve Provides Limited Predictive Information on Short-Term Recovery after Acute Optic Neuritis

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Berg, Sebastian
Kaschka, Iris
Utz, Kathrin S.
Huhn, Konstantin
Lämmer, Alexandra
Lämmer, Robert
Waschbisch, Anne
Kloska, Stephan
Lee, De-Hyung
Doerfler, Arnd

Background In acute optic neuritis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may help to confirm the diagnosis as well as to exclude alternative diagnoses. Yet, little is known on the value of optic nerve imaging for predicting clinical symptoms or therapeutic outcome. Purpose To evaluate the benefit of optic nerve MRI for predicting response to appropriate therapy and recovery of visual acuity. Methods Clinical data as well as visual evoked potentials (VEP) and MRI results of 104 patients, who were treated at the Department of Neurology with clinically definite optic neuritis between December 2010 and September 2012 were retrospectively reviewed including a follow up within 14 days. Results Both length of the Gd enhancing lesion (r = -0.38; p = 0.001) and the T2 lesion (r = -0.25; p = 0.03) of the optic nerve in acute optic neuritis showed a medium correlation with visual acuity after treatment. Although visual acuity pre-treatment was little but nonsignificantly lower if Gd enhancement of the optic nerve was detected via orbital MRI, improvement of visual acuity after adequate therapy was significantly better (0.40 vs. 0.24; p = 0.04). Intraorbitally located Gd enhancing lesions were associated with worse visual improvement compared to canalicular, intracranial and chiasmal lesions (0.35 vs. 0.54; p = 0.02). Conclusion Orbital MRI is a broadly available, valuable tool for predicting the improvement of visual function. While the accurate individual prediction of long-term outcomes after appropriate therapy still remains difficult, lesion length of Gd enhancement and T2 lesion contribute to its prediction and a better short-term visual outcome may be associated with detection and localization of Gd enhancement along the optic nerve.

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