My wife has recently been diagnosed with MS through a spinal tap. I really didn't even know what MS was before that, but have learned quite a bit over the past two weeks. She was unable to have an MRI because she has a pacemaker (a non-dependent pacemaker). Since she was diagnosed, we have contacted her cardiologist and the pacemaker manufacturer, and, with reluctance, they both agreed to allow her to have an MRI if they were present and disabled the pacemaker during the procedure. The radiology department at the hospital, however, has informed us that they will not perform the MRI. Without an MRI, how effective can the MS be diagnosed and tracked? I gathered from our conversations with the cardiologist and pacemaker rep that MRIs have been performed on patients with pacemakers. Is anyone aware of where we may be able to do that?
This is all new to us, and we're a little overwhelmed right now.
I'm sorry to learn of your wife's diagnosis. It must be especially trying, dealing with that and also the heart problems that have caused her to have a pacemaker!
Please note: I am NOT a doctor, and don't pretend to be one, here. But here is my opinion about your question, "Without an MRI, how effective can the MS be diagnosed and tracked?"
MS has been diagnosed for years, LONG before MRI's existed, through the spinal tap your wife had, and clinical signs and symptoms. While an MRI is a useful diagnostic tool, once the diagnosis is made -- with or without the use of an MRI -- tracking is done by observation: is the patient experiencing new symptoms? is she having flares, or exacerbations (increase in intensity of "old" symptoms, along with "new" symptoms)? So if she has been diagnosed, there really isn't any reason to have an MRI, unless she really doubts her diagnosis.
While it's helpful sometimes to have an MRI when starting a new drug therapy (one of the four drugs used to slow the progression of MS -- Avonex, Betaseron, Rebif, or Copaxone, for example) -- it really isn't necessary. I've had MS for 24 years. The last MRI I had was maybe 15 years ago or so, and was done really because the doctor was unfamiliar with how MS looked on an MRI, and asked if I'd mind being his "test subject". My MS was confirmed long before MRI's even existed, through the spinal tap and clinical signs.
Given her medical history, and the hospital's reluctance to submit her to the MRI..and again, if she's pretty confident that the diagnosis is accurate .. .I'd probably not insist on an MRI at this point.
Please don't hesitate to come back here with questions. A good source of information, particularly for newly diagnosed people, is at the National Multiple Sclerosis website, www.nmss.org
and there are other sources and links listed at the top of the page here.
...I am not a doctor, nor health professional, and don't pretend to be one, here.....