Transverse myelitis

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By Anthony T Reder MD

Transverse myelitis is also known as or subsumes Acute spontaneous myelitis and Myelomalacia. -ed.

Transverse myelitis is part of a spectrum of demyelinating disease but has unique features that differentiate it from multiple sclerosis. In this recently updated clinical article, Dr. Anthony T Reder, Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Chicago, describes new developments in the diagnosis of transverse myelitis: there are subgroups of myelitis caused by neuromyelitis optica and by cord involvement from CNS Sjögren disease.

Key points

  • Acute transverse myelitis, as defined here, is idiopathic and excludes other forms of myelitis (neuromyelitis optica, postinfectious and postvaccinal myelitis, multiple sclerosis, etc.)
  • Cord symptoms evolve over a period of hours to days and then typically resolve over a period of weeks..
  • The pathology is similar to multiple sclerosis, but only 40% will develop multiple sclerosis.
  • High-dose glucocorticosteroids hasten recovery but have no long-term benefit.