Background: Spinal cord lesions is one of the predominant characteristics in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD). Interestingly, mounting evidence indicates that spinal cord atrophy (SCA) is one of common clinical features in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, and correlates closely with the neurological disability. However, Clinical studies related to the SCA aspects of NMOSD are still scarce.
Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 185 patients with NMOSD, including 23 patients with SCA and 162 patients without SCA. Data were collected regarding clinical characteristics, laboratory tests, and magnetic resonance imaging findings.
Results: 12.4% of patients had SCA in NMOSD. Patients with SCA had a longer disease duration and higher EDSS at clinical onset and last visit. More importantly, SCA patients were more prone to reach disability milestones (EDSS ≥ 6.0). Bowel or bladder dysfunction, movement disorders, and sensory disturbances symptoms were more common in patients with SCA. ESR and CRP were significantly higher in patients with SCA than those without SCA. Patients with SCA were more frequently complicated with cervical cord lesions. However, the ARR, progression index, seropositive rate of NMO-IgG and OCB were similar in the two groups. Futhermore, LETM did not differ significantly between patients with SCA and without SCA in NMOSD patients.
Conclusions: Patients with SCA might have longer disease duration, more severe clinical disability, and more frequently complicated with cervical spinal cord lesions. SCA might be predictive of the more severe neurologic dysfunction and worse prognosis in NMOSD. Inflammation contributes to the development of SCA in NMOSD.