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Journal of the Korean Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine 2011;35(1):110-114.
Survey on the Diagnostic Process of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Kim, Sundo , Kang, Seong Woong , Choi, Wonah , Park, Jung Hyun , Lee, Youngsang , Yu, Su Jin
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Rehabilitation Institute of Muscular Disease, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul 135-720, Korea. kswoong@yuhs.ac
To emphasize the need for precise diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive and degenerative disease of upper and lower motor neurons that often present initially with weakness at the upper or lower extremities, and frequently misdiagnosed as myelopathy, radiculopathy, peripheral neuropathy or arthropathy that may ultimately lead to unnecessary treatments including surgical procedures. Method We retrospectively reviewed medical records of 331 ALS patients who visited our hospital between 1998 and 2008. Symptoms at onset, progression of disease, radiologic findings, surgeries prior to diagnosis of ALS, outcome after surgery or conservative treatments, and electrodiagnostic study results were reviewed.
Among the 331 patients with ALS, 34 (10.3%) had a history of surgical procedure and 37 (11.1%) underwent conservative treatment prior to diagnosis of ALS. 34 patients with a mean disease duration at diagnosis of 20.0±14.9 months, had surgery for symptoms that were later attributable to ALS. In 30 of the 34 patients, symptoms did not resolve after the intervention. 37 patients with a mean disease duration at diagnosis of 16.6±14.3 months, underwent conservative treatments such as physical therapy prior to diagnosis of ALS. Only in one patient (2.7%), symptoms improved after conservative treatment. Conclusion In the absence of a single confirmatory study for the diagnosis of ALS, clinical findings may be misinterpreted, leading to an erroneous diagnosis. Therefore, closer and more careful follow-up is necessary for patients with limb weakness in the absence of sensory symptoms, or bulbar abnormalities such as dysarthria and dysphagia.
Key Words: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Diagnosis, Electrodiagnostic study, Conservative treatment, Surgical procedure


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