Abnormal cervical lymph nodes in multiple sclerosis: a preliminary ultrasound study



Cervical lymph nodes are the first drainage stations of the brain and therefore play a key role in neuroinflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis.


The aim of this study was to evaluate, by using ultrasound imaging, cervical lymph nodes in patients with multiple sclerosis and to ascertain if such patients have any clinical features to attest their role.


We enrolled 43 patients affected by relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (22 drug free and 21 under treatment with natalizumab or fingolimod), who underwent ultrasound examination. The morphology, diameters and volume of cervical lymph nodes were measured. We evaluated also a control group of 20 healthy volunteers.


Between-group comparisons showed that the mean anteroposterior diameters in the cervical lymph nodes on both sides of the neck were significantly different (χ 2 = 19.5, p < 0.001 for right; χ 2 = 20.0, p < 0.001 for left). Post hoc contrasts showed that the mean anteroposterior diameters were greater both in drug-naive (mean ± SD 0.66 ± 0.20 cm; p < 0.001) and treated patients (0.55 ± 0.24 cm; p < 0.001) compared to healthy individuals (0.36 ± 0.19 cm). Moreover, significant difference (p < 0.001) was shown on comparing the mean volume of the cervical lymph nodes on both sides of the neck in the studied groups. No significant differences emerged between the drug-free and treated patients.


The abnormalities shown by ultrasound in cervical lymph nodes are related to deep ones and independent of the ongoing treatment, suggesting a relationship between lymphatic drainage and disease pathology.

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Correspondence to Eliseo Picchi.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Di Giuliano, F., Albanese, M., Picchi, E. et al. Abnormal cervical lymph nodes in multiple sclerosis: a preliminary ultrasound study. Radiol med 123, 202–208 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11547-017-0829-4

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  • Cervical lymph nodes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ultrasound