Predictors of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mimic syndrome

  • Cecilia Quarracino
  • María Constanza Segamarchi
  • Gabriel E. RodríguezEmail author
Original article


The term amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mimic syndrome (ALSms) includes pathologies that present signs or symptoms similar to those caused by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which can lead to misdiagnosis. In general, any kind of misdiagnosis can result in negative clinical, psychological and economic consequences as well diagnostic and treatment delay. The objectives were to determine the frequency and to compare the demographic and clinical characteristics of patients with ALS and ALSms in our ALS clinic. We retrospectively studied all patients evaluated from 2007 to 2017 including only patients with a definite final diagnosis. Out of 368 patients with motor neuron disease symptomatology, 43 (11.7%) had an ALSms. The most frequent etiology was compressive myelopathy (32.6%). Multivariate analysis considering positive associations was statistically significant for patients having only upper or lower motor neuron signs in the physical examination, a non-compatible electromyogram (EMG), as well as atypical first symptoms. ALS misdiagnosis is an ongoing and not infrequent problem. From our series of patients, atypical symptoms, absence of EMG pathological findings or isolated upper or lower motor neuron disease should prompt suspicion of a differential diagnosis.


ALS differential diagnosis ALS mimic syndrome ALS mimic disorder Spondylotic myelopathy 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Belgian Neurological Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Quarracino
    • 1
  • María Constanza Segamarchi
    • 2
  • Gabriel E. Rodríguez
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Neurology DepartmentInstituto de Investigaciones Médicas Alfredo LanariBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Neurology Residency, Neurology DepartmentHospital Ramos MejíaBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.ALS Clinic, Neurology DepartmentHospital Ramos MejíaBuenos AiresArgentina

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