Central vein sign: A putative diagnostic marker for multiple sclerosis


The presence of a “central vein sign” (CVS) has been introduced as a biomarker for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and shown to have the ability to accurately differentiate MS from other white matter diseases (MS mimics). Following the development of susceptibility-based magnetic resonance venography that allowed the in vivo detection of CVS, a standard CVS definition was established by introducing the “40% rule” that assesses the number of MS lesions with CVS as a fraction of the total number of lesions to differentiate MS lesions from other types of lesions. The “50% rule,” the “three-lesion criteria,” and the “six-lesion criteria” were later introduced and defined. Each of these rules had high levels of sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in differentiating MS from other diseases, which has been recognized by the Magnetic Resonance Imaging in MS (MAGNIMS) group and the Consortium of MS Centers task force. The North American Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis Cooperative even provided statements and recommendations aiming to refine, standardize and evaluate the CVS in MS. Herein, we review the existing literature on CVS and evaluate its added value in the diagnosis of MS and usefulness in differentiating it from other vasculopathies. We also review the histopathology of CVS and identify available automated CVS assessment methods as well as define the role of vascular comorbidities in the diagnosis of MS.

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