Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"MRI Lesions - Does the number of lesions found during an MRI scan indicate the severity of illness?"

ZocdocAnswersMRI Lesions - Does the number of lesions found during an MRI scan indicate the severity of illness?


Is there a relationship between the number of lesions that show up on an MRI scan for multiple sclerosis, or not? I want to know, if the MRI I get next week shows a lot of lesions, if that's necessarily worse than having a few lesions like I did last time. Couldn't many small lesions be relatively benign (as opposed to a few large lesions)?


As you probably know, MRI is just one method of diagnosing multiple sclerosis. Most of the time, MS is treated based on symptoms. Thus decisions made about treatment for you will largely be based on how you are feeling. The best type of physician to meet with about multiple sclerosis is a neurologist. MRI findings of MS are complex. The images often show multiple different types of abnormalities. For example, MRI can often show old areas of MS inflammation that are not currently causing a problem for the person. A certain type of finding on the MRI in patients with MS known as a black hole tends to correlate with the severity of the disease. The larger the volume of the black hole found on MRI tends mean that the disability of the person is greater. The most important measure of your disease is how you are feeling. If you are currently symptom free and you have been for some time, then an additional lesion found on MRI will have an uncertain significance. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with the physician that is currently evaluating you. If you have not yet seen a neurologist, then I suggest that you arrange to see one.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.