Objective: Our goal was to describe the spectrum of clinical phenotypes, laboratory and imaging features, and treatment in pediatric patients with neuromyelitis optica.
Patients and methods: The study consisted of a retrospective chart review of patients followed in a pediatric multiple sclerosis center with a diagnosis of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.
Results: Nine patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders were included, all of whom were female. There were 4 black children, 2 Latin American children, 2 white children, and 1 child of mixed Latin American/white heritage. Median age at initial attack was 14 years (range: 1.9-16 years). Median disease duration was 4 years (range: 0.6-9 years). Tests for neuromyelitis optica immunoglobulin G were positive for 7 patients. Eight patients had transverse myelitis and optic neuritis, and 1 patient had longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis without optic neuritis but had a positive neuromyelitis optica immunoglobulin G antibody titer. Cerebral involvement on MRI was found in all subjects, 5 of whom were symptomatic with encephalopathy, seizures, hemiparesis, aphasia, vomiting, or hiccups. Immunosuppressive therapy reduced attack frequency and progression of disability.
Conclusions: Pediatric neuromyelitis optica has a diverse clinical presentation and may be difficult to distinguish from multiple sclerosis in the early stages of the disease. The recognition of the broad spectrum of this disease to include signs and symptoms of brain involvement is aided by the availability of a serum biomarker: neuromyelitis optica immunoglobulin G. Early diagnosis and immunosuppresive treatment may help to slow the accumulation of severe disability.