Variation in Treatment and Outcomes of Children With Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

Hosp Pediatr. 2020 Feb;10(2):159-165. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2019-0129.


Objectives: To characterize variation in treatments and outcomes of pediatric patients admitted to children's hospitals with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM).

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we used data from the Pediatric Health Information System. Children >30 days old who were hospitalized from 2010 to 2015 with ADEM were included. Variables analyzed were treatments and admission to an ICU. Primary outcomes were discharge disposition and readmissions for relapses (ADEM readmissions) or for continued comorbidities (non-ADEM readmissions).

Results: A total of 954 patients with ADEM had 1117 admissions. Treatments included steroids (80%), immunoglobulin (22%), and plasmapheresis (6.6%); 15% of admissions included none of these treatments. Treatments varied by center (P < .001). Thirty-four percent of admissions included ICU admission, which was associated with an increased number and duration of treatments (P < .01). The discharge disposition was home in 85% of admissions; home with health services, rehab facility, or other in 13.6%; and mortality in 1.4%. Twelve percent (117 of 954) of patients had >1 admission for ADEM. Treatment choice and ICU stay were not associated with ADEM readmissions. Sixteen percent (181 of 1101) of ADEM admissions had a non-ADEM readmission within 90 days. Prolonged ICU hospitalization was associated with non-ADEM readmission (adjusted odds ratio 1.9; P = .017) and decreased likelihood of discharge from the hospital to home (adjusted odds ratio 0.1; P < .001). After adjusting for ICU duration, treatment choice and duration were not associated with non-ADEM readmission or hospital disposition.

Conclusions: Significant variation in ADEM treatment exists across centers. Admission to an ICU for ADEM was associated with increased immunotherapy, additional health services at discharge, and readmission for diagnoses other than ADEM.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated* / therapy
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome