AND IF IT WAS NO ALS

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AND IF IT WAS NO ALS
Wang FC
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or “Maladie de Charcot” is a progressive, fatal over 3
to 4 years, degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons. Until a few years, 25% of
ALS patients were still classified as having suspected or possible ALS at the time of their
death (Forbes et al, 2001). To improve the diagnosis sensitivity, de Carvalho et al (2008)
introduced the Awaji criteria. These authors proposed two new recommendations: 1)
clinical and electrophysiological have equal diagnostic significance; 2) in presence of
chronic neurogenic change on needle EMG, fasciculation potentials are equivalent to
fibrillations and positive sharp waves in their clinical significance. By doing so, Awaji
criteria led to a 23% increase in the population of patients classified as having
probable/definite ALS (Costal et al, 2012). However, an increase in diagnosis sensitivity
should induce a decrease in diagnosis specificity. In the context of a fatal disease such as
ALS, a false positive diagnosis has significant psychological, economic, therapeutic,
genetic and scientific consequences. Therefore, to date, to consider others diagnosis
remains crucial. The differential diagnosis has to consider borderline forms (primary
lateral sclerosis, primary muscular atrophy, progressive bulbar palsy and forms with
focal amyotrophy as flail arm or leg syndromes), ALS mimic disorders (benign
fasciculations and associated syndromes, myopathies, focal or multifocal motor
neuropathies, myasthenia, myelopathies and some hereditary motor, or predominantly
motor, syndromes) and concomitant diseases (for instance: cervical + lumbar spine
stenosis, falx meningioma + lower spine stenosis).
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