Transverse myelopathy in SLE: clinical features and functional outcomes

Lupus. 1996 Aug;5(4):294-9. doi: 10.1177/096120339600500409.


The objective of the study was to examine the clinical features of lupus patients who present with transverse myelopathy (TM) and ascertain functional outcomes when treated early with high dose corticosteroids and/or cyclophosphamide. Case records of nine patients who developed a total of 14 episodes of TM were retrospectively studied. All the patients were female and their ages ranged from 21 to 59 years. Nine episodes of paraparesis, three of tetraparesis, one of numbness and one of neurogenic bladder were reported early in the diagnosis of SLE (median of two years). Neurogenic bowel and bladder and presence of ANA and ds-DNA were invariable. Urodynamics assessment in six patients showed abnormal detrusor behavior in all. CT scans and myelograms were uninformative and CSF studies were normal. ESR and complement levels were insensitive as markers of disease activity. The treatment regimens included pulses of methylprednisolone and/or cyclophosphamide followed by prednisolone and high dose prednisolone from onset. The functional outcomes were uniformly good-with independent ambulation in all except three (who needed assistive devices) and improvement of motor scores. Acute hospital stays were short (range of three to 45 days) whilst only two were referred for inpatient rehabilitation. Bladder abnormalities persisted despite motor recovery and would require long-term review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelitis, Transverse / drug therapy
  • Myelitis, Transverse / etiology*
  • Myelitis, Transverse / rehabilitation
  • Paraplegia / etiology
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Quadriplegia / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / etiology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / physiopathology
  • Urodynamics


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Azathioprine
  • Prednisone
  • Methylprednisolone