Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis is inflammation localized to the spinal cord. It occurs across a segment, like cervical or thoracic level. It causes injury to spinal cord so that patients present with weakness, sensory and autonomic symptoms below the level of the inflammation.

The degree of inflammation can vary. Patients develop severe inflammatory transverse myelitis in an idiopathic disorder, vascular occlusions and NMO, neuromyelitis optica. The inflammation damages the myelin and the axons resulting in paralysis and sensory loss below the level and loss of bowel and bladder control.

Patchy inflammation in the spinal cord causes mild sensory symptoms, heaviness in the legs or spasticity in patients with more typical multiple sclerosis. The inflammation here causes limited myelin damage with better preservation of the axons.

Early evaluation, through the use of MRI scans, physical examinations, and blood tests to differentiate the different types of transverse myelitis, is key to providing the patient the most effective treatment to improve their condition and prevent further relapses.

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