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April 1988

Suspected Multiple Sclerosis: How Much to Tell the Patient?

Arch Neurol. 1988;45(4):442. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520280092022

Dr Sencer's contribution was originally meant as a controversy. As the views of the potential partners were explored, it became clear that no one has a universal formula for dealing with uncertainty and for deciding how much to tell a given patient with suspected multiple sclerosis. While most physicians would agree in principle with Dr Sencer's position, the number of investigations performed on patients with presumed multiple sclerosis suggests that some physicians belie by tests what they claim by words.

What to do and what to tell may be more difficult in the abstract than in the individual instance. If the symptoms and signs raise the possibility of a compressive lesion of the spinal cord, for example, appropriate investigation should be done, and the results should be shared with the patient. If, on the other hand, the symptoms and signs do not portend a potentially treatable lesion, there is little

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