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What is radiologically isolated syndrome in multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Researchers who followed people whose brains showed evidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) during magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) taken for other reasons -- such as migraines or head trauma -- found that nearly a third went on to develop MS during the study period, even though they showed no signs of the condition before the scans. The condition has been dubbed radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS). The study's author said RIS could be a precursor to MS but that more research is needed.

The study was small, looking at just 44 people. It found that after MRIs revealed evidence of abnormalities similar to those seen in MS, 30 percent of the people studied went on to develop outward MS symptoms, on average 5.4 years after the initial scan. Another 29 percent of people studied continued to show brain abnormalities, but still didn't have any MS symptoms years later.

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