Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) is diagnosed when a person has experienced a single episode of neurologic symptoms, such as visual blurriness, numbness, tingling and weakness of the limbs.
It is caused by inflammation in the brain or spinal cord. Not everyone that experiences CIS will actually go on to develop MS, about 70% of people will.
A neurologist makes the diagnosis of clinically isolated syndrome. There is no one examination or test that can be used to diagnose CIS and the process involves ruling out other possible causes of your symptoms. Your medical history and a clinical examination are also important.
Many CIS episodes are mild and resolve of their own accord over a period of weeks. However, when symptoms are more severe, for example, visual loss and pain in optic neuritis, or vertigo where there is a brainstem lesion, you may be prescribed high dose steroids. These are given either as a pill or through a drip, but only for a few days. Steroids can speed up your recovery – however, your level of recovery will be the same with or without steroid treatment.
Where it is necessary, you may also be prescribed treatments for specific symptoms.
A diagnosis of MS can only be made if a person has experienced two or more attacks, separated by time (for example 2 months) and affecting different parts of the central nervous system.
Our MS in a Minute videos were created to provide fast and factual definitions of commonly used terms in MS.
- Clinically isolated syndrome (MS Trust – United Kingdom)