Transverse Myelitis

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.


Transverse myelitis (TM) is a rare, acquired focal inflammatory disorder often presenting with rapid onset weakness, sensory deficits, and bowel/bladder dysfunction. Generally occurring independently; often as a complication of infection; however, it may also exist as part of a continuum of other neuro-inflammatory disorders. Some of the included continua are acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, and acute flaccid myelitis. TM generally occurs at the spinal cord at any level, but most commonly affects the thoracic region. The disorder transverses the spinal cord causing bilateral deficiencies. However, there may only be partial or asymmetric involvement. The duration of this disease may be as little as 3 to 6 months or may become permanently debilitating. At peak deficit, 50% of patients are complete paraplegic with virtually all of the patients having a degree of bladder/bowel dysfunction. Approximately 33% of patients recover with little to no lasting deficits, 33% have a moderate degree of permanent disability, and 33% are permanently disabled.

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