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CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology:
doi: 10.1212/01.CON.0000433289.38339.a2
Review Articles

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, Transverse Myelitis, and Neuromyelitis Optica

Wingerchuk, Dean M. MD, MSc, FRCP(C), FAAN; Weinshenker, Brian G. MD, FRCP(C), FAAN

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Abstract

Purpose of Review

This review defines current clinical criteria for diagnosis, differential diagnosis, and clinical evaluation of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis, and neuromyelitis optica, and summarizes principles of treatment.

Recent Findings

Consensus criteria for transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis have been proposed. A specific biomarker, aquaporin-4 autoantibody, has been discovered for neuromyelitis optica that allows for early and accurate diagnosis even in the absence of cardinal findings of optic neuritis and myelitis. The antibody is pathogenic and is facilitating an understanding of the pathophysiology of neuromyelitis optica and development of antigen-specific treatments.

Summary

Clinical and radiologic findings combined with serologic findings may permit classification of syndromes of transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis in ways that may predict risk of relapse, type of relapse, and prognosis. Treatment, especially to prevent relapse, is dependent on the specific disease context in which syndromes such as transverse myelitis occur.

Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Neurology.

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