TN 38 (09-20)

DI 23022.620 Malignant Multiple Sclerosis




Malignant MS; Marburg Variant Multiple Sclerosis, Marburg Variant MS; Fulminant Multiple Sclerosis; Aggressive MS; Advanced MS


Malignant Multiple Sclerosis (Malignant MS) is an aggressive and rare form of MS. It is characterized by rapidly progressive inflammation and destruction of myelin (protective covering surrounding the nerves) and increased formation of lesions and plaque in the brain and spine. The loss of myelin affects the brain’s ability to transmit electrochemical impulses between the nerve cells of the brain and the spinal cord, resulting in deterioration or loss of neurological functioning.

As the disease progresses, lesions develop in the areas of the brain responsible for information processing, resulting in cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, language, and judgment. People with malignant MS can have damage to regions of the brain responsible for behavior and emotions resulting in psychotic disorders such as manic depression and paranoia.


Diagnostic testing: There is no single test to detect malignant MS. It may be difficult to distinguish between a diagnosis of malignant MS and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) because of the timing of the occurrence of plaques in the brain tissue. A neurological exam is performed to assess symptoms and to rule out other possible disorders. Analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid is also helpful for the diagnosis of malignant MS. Neuro-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI), and computerized brain tomography are used to detect central nervous system lesions, myelin loss, white matter abnormalities, and other physical changes in the brain.

Physical findings: Physical symptoms may include:

  • Weakness in the extremities;

  • Difficulties with coordination and balance;

  • Spasticity;

  • Paresthesias (abnormal sensory feelings of numbness and prickling sensations);

  • Speech impediments;

  • Tremors;

  • Dizziness;

  • Hearing loss;

  • Vision impairments; and

  • Bowel and bladder difficulties

ICD-9: 340 AL, 340 AZ, 341.8 and 341.9

ICD-10: G35


People with malignant MS experience a rapid decline in functioning. They require assistance with ambulation within five years from symptom onset due to the loss of the ability of the nerve cell (neurons) to transmit impulses to muscles that control motor functioning. Assistance with activities of daily living is required.


There is currently no cure for malignant MS. Treatment generally consists of immunomodulatory therapy and the management of symptoms. Physical and occupational therapies can help the person perform daily activities such as handwriting, buttoning, and using eating utensils. Ambulatory aides such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs are prescribed for gait and ataxia.


Suggested MER for Evaluation:

  • Clinical records from the claimant’s medical source(s) documenting the progression of neurological and cognitive decline;

  • A report completed by a family member or caregiver is needed to document the individual’s ability to perform daily activities independently; and

  • Neuroimaging studies, such as MRI and other tests used to detect central nervous system lesions, myelin loss, white matter abnormalities, and other physical changes in the brain.

Suggested Listings for Evaluation:




Meets 11.09

* Adjudicators may, at their discretion, use the Medical Evidence of Record or the listings suggested to evaluate the claim. However, the decision to allow or deny the claim rests with the adjudicator.


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DI 23022.620 - Malignant Multiple Sclerosis - 09/16/2020
Batch run: 07/21/2021