Prospective study of patients presenting with acute partial transverse myelopathy

J Neurol. 2003 Dec;250(12):1447-52. doi: 10.1007/s00415-003-0242-x.


Background: The clinical and radiological characteristics of myelopathy in multiple sclerosis (MS) are relatively well known. Nevertheless, it remains difficult for the clinician to ascertain conversion to MS after a first episode of acute partial transverse myelopathy (APTM).

Objective: The aims of this study were to define predictive factors for conversion to clinically definite MS after an APTM and to define predictive factors for disease severity.

Patients and methods: Between 1994 and 2001, we prospectively included 55 patients presenting with a first episode of APTM. Three patients were lost during the follow-up. We evaluated clinical signs, spinal cord and brain MRI, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and visual evoked potentials on admission. After a mean followup of 35 months (range 12-86), we evaluated the diagnosis and, among the MS group, the severity of the disease.

Results: Of the 52 APTM patients who completed the study, 30 became clinically definite MS. The predictive factors for conversion to MS were: initial sensory symptoms, latero-posterior spinal cord lesion, abnormal brain MRI and oligoclonal bands in CSF. In the MS group, the number of spinal cord lesions on MRI was the only predictive factor for a poor outcome, being statistically correlated with a higher number of relapses.

Conclusion: On the basis of our results, we propose that, in patients with APTM, sensory symptoms, oligoclonal bands and brain MRI are predictive factors for subsequent conversion to clinically definite MS and that within the latter patients the number of spinal cord lesions on MRI is the only predictive factor for a poor outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Myelitis, Transverse / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Myelitis, Transverse / pathology*
  • Oligoclonal Bands / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Oligoclonal Bands