Skip to main content
Log in

The prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the north–west Italian province of Genoa

  • Published:
Journal of Neurology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS), calculated as point prevalence on 31 December 1997, in the province of Genoa, North–western Italy.


The province of Genoa is located in North–western Italy, an area of 1835 km2. On the point prevalence day the population consisted of 913,218 inhabitants. MS cases were identified by analysing archives of the hospitals with neurological or rehabilitation wards, neurologists serving the community, files of local chapters of the Italian MS society, all requests for oligoclonal bands analysis on CSF in the studied area. Patients included in the study were MS cases diagnosed before 31 December 1997 according to the Poser criteria resident in the province under study.


A total of 857 subjects were alive and residing in the province of Genoa on the prevalence day. The overall crude prevalence rate was 94 per 100,000 (95% CI 88–100); 291 were males (34%) with a crude prevalence of 67 per 100,000 (95 % CI 60–76) and 566 were females (66%) with a prevalence of 118 per 100,000 (95% CI 108–128). The female/male ratio was 1.9. When age and sex were adjusted to the Italian standard population of 1991 prevalence was 85 per 100,000. Five hundred and thirty two out of the 857 patients agreed to be interviewed. The interviewed sample was representative of the prevalence sample: sex and gender distributions were identical in the two samples. The overall mean age was 48 (± 13) years (48 ± 12 years in males; 48 ± 14 years in females). Mean disease duration was 15 (± 10) years for males and 16 (± 11) years for females. Two hundred and ninety one (55 %) subjects had a relapsing remitting (RR) clinical course, 150 (28%) were secondary progressive (SP) and 91 (17%) were primary progressive (PP). Mean EDSS score was 5 (± 2; median 5). The mean age at time of onset was 33 (±10) years for males and 32 (± 11) years for females. The disease onset was monosymptomatic in 76% (n = 407) patients and polysymptomatic in 24% (n = 125). The mean length of time between clinical onset and diagnosis was 5 (± 6) years.


We confirmed that the province of Genoa is a very high risk area for MS. We found a high rate of patients with a PP course; also the proportion of patients with high disability scores is greater compared to previous studies.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Kurtzke JF (1975) A reassessment of the distribution of multiple sclerosis. Part I. Part II. Acta Neurol Scand 51:110–136, 137–157

    Google Scholar 

  2. Kurtzke JF (1980) Epidemiologic contributions to multiple sclerosis: An overview. Neurology 30:61–79

    Google Scholar 

  3. Granieri E, Casetta I,Govoni V, et al. (2000) The increasing incidence and prevalence of MS in a Sardinian province. Neurology 55:842–847

    Google Scholar 

  4. Grimaldi LME, Salemi G, Grimaldi G, et al. (2001) High incidence and increasing prevalence of MS in Enna (Sicily), southern Italy. Neurology 57:1891–1893

    Google Scholar 

  5. Granieri E, Malagù S, Casetta L, et al. (1996) Multiple sclerosis in Italy.A reappraisal of incidence and prevalence in Ferrara. Arch Neurol 53: 793–798

    Google Scholar 

  6. Pugliatti M, Sotgiu S, Solinas G, et al. (2001) Multiple sclerosis epidemiology in Sardinia: evidence for a true increasing risk. Acta Neurol Scand 103:20–26

    Google Scholar 

  7. Casetta I,Granieri E,Marchi D, et al. (1998) An epidemiological study of multiple sclerosis in central Sardinia, Italy. Acta Neurol Scand 98:391–394

    Google Scholar 

  8. Sironi L,Mamoli A,D’Alessandro G, Carmelingo M, Bottacchi E (1991) Frequency of Multiple Sclerosis in Valle d’Aosta, 1971–1985. Neurepidemiology 10:66–69

    Google Scholar 

  9. Guidetti D, Cavalletti S,Merelli E, et al. (1995) Epidemiological Survey of Multiple Sclerosis in the Provinces of Reggio Emilia and Modena, Italy. Neurepidemiology 14:7–13

    Google Scholar 

  10. Savettieri G, Salemi G, Ragonese P, Aridon P, Scola G, Randisi G (1998) Prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis in the city of Monreale, Italy. J Neurol 245:40–43

    Google Scholar 

  11. Nicoletti A, Lo Bartolo ML, Lo Fermo S, et al. (2001) Prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis in Catania, Sicily. Neurol 56:62–66

    Google Scholar 

  12. Ranzato F, Perini P, Tzintzeva E, et al. (2003) Increasing frequency of multiple sclerosis in Padova, Italy: 30 year epidemiological survey. Mult Scler 9:387–392

    Google Scholar 

  13. Totaro R,Marini C, Cialfi A, Giunta M, Carolei A (2000) Prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the L’Aquila district, central Italy. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 68:349–352

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. Solaro MD.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Solaro, C., Allemani, ., Messmer Uccelli, M. et al. The prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the north–west Italian province of Genoa. J Neurol 252, 436–440 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words