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Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy: MRI

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) can be identified by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a diagnostic procedure that uses a powerful magnet plus radio waves (but not radiation) to take very high-quality cross-sectional images of the inside of the body. PML MRIs produce images that are more detailed and clear than x-rays, without the danger of radiation.

As a disease affecting primarily the brain, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy is caused by the activation of a dormant virus (the JC virus) present in at least four out of every five human beings. The virus attacks the white matter of the brain, producing lesions that can be detected by MRI.

PML MRI Findings

When an individual is experiencing symptoms that suggest the possibility of PML, he or she should be examined by a physician. The symptoms of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy include:

  • unexplained changes in speech, thinking, and/or personality
  • loss of coordination and balance
  • physical weakness

An MRI exam may be in order. The positive identification of PML is based on findings of white matter lesions ? single or multiple lesions. The "multifocal" part of the term "progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy" indicates that multiple locations in the brain may be damaged by the JC virus.

PML MRI Images

A contrast agent can be used with MRI to enhance any images of lesions. The MRI testing can also be accompanied by an examination of the cerebrospinal spinal fluid (CSF). The demyelination caused by the JCV may be present throughout the central nervous system (CNS), and the CSF may show further evidence of the damage. If the MRI and other methods detect lesions or other damage in the brain, a biopsy of brain tissue may also be performed.

Treatment for PML

Unfortunately there is no sure cure for PML. The treatment is merely supportive, meant to help strengthen the patient's immune system. While it used to be that most PML patients had AIDS or were HIV-positive, there have been several reports of PML developing in patients treated with Tysabri, a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or Raptiva, a treatment for psoriasis. Because of the reported development of PML in a number of Raptiva patients, the Psoriasis drug was recalled in April 2009.

A drug called Cidofovir has been used to help treat PML, and other drugs are under study, but so far, they do not appear to be very effective.

More PML Information

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with PML and you would like more information about the condition, its causes and symptoms, please contact our Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy attorneys today. We can also help you recover compensation for any losses you have incurred as a result of your illness.

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Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy News

  • Risk of Fatal Infection Sparks Raptiva Recall

    April 9, 2009

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a voluntary Raptiva recall, April 8, 2009. The Psoriasis drug’s manufacturer, Genentech, announced the voluntary Raptiva recall and has begun phasing the drug off the U.S. market. Raptiva will no longer be … Continue reading