ZocdocAnswersCan Multiple Sclerosis cause lesions on the spine?

Question

Can Multiple Sclerosis cause lesions on the spine?

I recently had a body scan to figure out some strange symptoms I've been having and the doctor said she found a ""lytic lesion"" on my spine. But I'm worried that I actually have multiple sclerosis because of the nature of my symptoms. Can't multiple sclerosis also cause spinal lesions?

Answer

This is an example of how we as physicians need to improve our communication and explain our terminology with patients when going over the results of tests and imaging. The term lytic lesion is fairly broad and not specific, but I think I may be able give you some information. The term lytic lesion is usually (though not always) used to describe areas within a bone where the bone substance is lost or has been "eaten" away. I think your doctor was talking about a lesion in the bone of your spine, not your actual spinal cord. There are many different things that can cause lytic lesions and having just one without any other symptoms really doesn't mean a whole lot. Patients that are found to have many lytic lesions usually have metastatic cancer, or a type of leukemia known as multiple myeloma. Multiple sclerosis can cause areas of what we call demyelination in the spinal cord, but these need to be detected by MRI. Multiple sclerosis lesions typically are not referred to as "lytic lesions." I suggest you schedule another appointment with the doctor that ordered the scan and explained it to you. Have him or her explain what this lytic lesion is, and what the next step is towards diagnosing what caused it. Good luck.

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