• Transverse myelitis (TM) is a segmental spinal cord injury caused by
• Transverse myelitis (TM)
• as evidence of spinal cord inﬂammation by an
MRI-documented enhancing lesion, or CSF pleocytosis (>10 cells), or increased
immunoglobulin G index.
• may be
2. postvaccination, or
3. associated with multiple sclerosis.
acute transverse myelopathy
• is a broader term refers to any process that acutely impairs spinal cord function.
Progression ; Transverse myelitis (TM)
The progression is rapid
• time to maximal disability is more than 4 hr and fewer than 21 days.
A. Acute (over minutes or hours),
B. subacute (over days or weeks)
• Small children, 3 yr of age and younger
• develop spinal cord dysfunction over hours to a few days
• clinical loss of function is often severe and may seem complete
• slow recovery (weeks to months) is common in these cases
• it is likely to be incomplete.
• independent ambulation in these small children is approximately 40%.
• is also rapid with a nadir in neurologic function occurring between 2 days and 2 wk
• is more rapid
• more likely to be complete.
•TM is often preceded within the previous 1-3 wk by
1. mild nonspecific illness
2. minimal trauma
•Postinfectious etiology largely predominates in
•Three hypotheses have been proposed:
1. Cell mediated autoimmune response
2. autoimmune vasculitis
3. direct viral invasion of spinal cord.
Transverse Myelitis (TM)
• Immune-mediated process results in neural
injury to the spinal cord
• Varying degrees of weakness, sensory
alterations and autonomic dysfunction
• Up to half of idiopathic cases will have a
preceding respiratory or gastrointestinal
A. Post or parainfectious
• Respiratory or gastrointestinal infections within 3 to 8 weeks
B. Direct invasion of spinal cord
C. Systemic autoimmune diseases
• Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
• Multiple Sclerosis
• 1 to 4/million per year
• affecting all ages with
• bimodal peaks between the ages of 10 and 19 years and 30 and 39 years.
• Boys and girls are affected equally
Combination of ;
3. bladder symptoms
• The course of ATM in children proceeds through three stages:
1. initial motor loss precedes sphincter dysfunction in most patients, there is often a
sensory loss below certain levels, usually over 2 to 3 days
2. plateau phase: the mean duration of plateau is 1 week
3. recovery phase.
Features of spinal cord lesion
1. Band like sensation (pressure, pain, numbness) over the trunk
2. Bladder symptoms (incontinence, difficulty urinating, retention)
3. Horizontal level of sensory loss
4. Unilateral posterior column loss
5. pyramidal weakness
6. contralateral spinothalamic loss
• Prior history of fever (nonspecific viral illness)
• ATM, the onset of spinal cord dysfunction usually progress in 4 hours to 21 days, the
patient's signs usually plateau and evolve toward spasticity/hyperreflexia.
• Back pain, paresthesias, radicular pain in the legs
• Bilateral, asymmetric, unilateral, acute-sub acute progressive leg weakness with any
of the features of spinal cord lesion
• Urinary retention is an early finding;
• incontinence occurs later in the course.
• Other findings may include
2. vision loss (neuromyelitis optica),
3. as well as spinal shock
4. subsequent autonomic dysreﬂexia
• Extreme irritability
• extent of weakness is assessed by how vigorously the child resists examination
• Fever, hypertension, tachycardia, meningeal signs may be present, in which cases CNS
infection need to be ruled out;
• point tenderness over the spine may point to trauma or infection
• Neurologic examination directed to
• visual acuity and color vision
• funduscopic examination for optic nerve head pallor (optic
causes the pain and irritability commonly seen in
children with TM
Pain in TM may be as a result of
1. neuropathic pain from nerve root inflammation
2. nociceptive pain from dural inflammation
3. muscle spasm from motor dysfunction
4. bladder distension from dysautonomia
5. psychological distress from loss of motor control
6. dysesthesia from demyelination of spinothalamic tract.
• Increased tone, spastic weakness is usually symmetric, legs more than arms
• Reflexes are usually brisk, with positive Babinski sign.
• Sensory ataxia, a sensory level (a partial level is commonly seen) that may spare
joint position and vibration, may be present.
• Sphincter dysfunction can lead to emergent complication of urinary
retention or incontinence;
• check for loss of anal wink
• bladder dilatation, and large volume of post void residual (>100 mL).
1. MRI with and without contrast enhancement is essential to rule out a mass lesion requiring
2. MRI of the brain is also indicated
3. lumbar puncture is indicated.
4. neuromyelitis optica (NMO; Devic syndrome)
• the serum of all patients should be analyzed for the NMO antibody.
5. TM, older children with the condition should have serum studies sent for autoimmune disorders,
especially systemic lupus erythematosus.
• MRI and CSF analysis are the two most important tests and are mandatory in
• Enhancing spinal cord lesion or pleocytosis or increased IgG index is required
for the diagnosis.
• If both tests are negative, repeat tests in 2 to 7 days is recommended.
A. The first priority in acute myelopathy
• is to rule out structural cause compressive myelopathy.
• spinal MRI
B. The second priority is to
• define the presence/absence of spinal cord inflammation and to rule out other CNS infection.
A. Third priority is to
• define extent of demyelination.
• Gadolinium-enhanced MRI of the brain
• evoked potential studies (e.g., visual evoked potential, somatosensory evoked potential)
Lumbar puncture is usually done after imaging, often shows
A. normal or slightly increased protein
B. mild pleocytosis with lymphocyte predominance.
C. Elevation of IgG index and presence of oligo clonal bands are indicative of MS or
other systemic inflammatory disease.
D. CSF gram stain, bacterial, viral, and fungal culture, VDRL, lyme antibodies, and PCR
of specific viruses should all be negative in ATM.
A. ESR and ANA
B. RPR, Lyme titer
C. underlying metabolic disorder including VLCFA.
D. Viruses associated with ATM include the herpes viruses (EBV, VZV, HSV), CMV mumps,
rubella, influenza, hepatitis A, B, C, HIV.
E. Positive IgM or greater than fourfold increase in IgG levels on two successive tests to a
specific infectious agent suggests diagnosis of parainfectious ATM.
1. Progressive lower limb weakness (proximal>distal)
2. Ascends to upper limbs & bifacial weakness
4. Normal sensory examination
5. No bladder symptoms
6. No band like sensation
7. No level for sensory loss
Characteristics Transverse Myelitis Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Motor findings Paraparesis or quadriparesis Ascending weakness LE > UE in the early
Sensory findings Usually can diagnose a spinal cord level Ascending sensory loss LE > UE in the
Autonomic findings Early loss of bowel and bladder control Autonomic dysfunction of the
Cranial nerve None EOM palsies or facial weakness
EMG/NCV findings may be normal or may
implicate the spinal cord: prolonged central
conduction on somatosensory evoked
(SEP) latencies or missing SEP in
with normal sensory nerve action potentials
EMG/NCV findings confined to the PNS:
and/or sensory nerve conduction velocity
reduced, distal latencies prolonged;
block; reduced H reflex usually present
MRI findings Usually a focal area of increased T2 signal
with or without gadohnium enhancement
CSF Usually, CSF pleocytosis and/or increased IgG
Usually, elevated protein in the absence of
Acute Transverse Myelopathy
• The three main categories in the differential diagnosis of ATM are demyelination,
1. multiple sclerosis (MS)
2. neuromyelitis optica (NMO), and
3. idiopathic transverse myelitis;
DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR TRANSVERSE MYELITIS
1. Bilateral (not necessarily symmetric) sensorimotor and autonomic spinal cord dysfunction
2. Clearly defined sensory level
3. Progression to nadir of clinical deficits between 4 hours and 21 days after symptom onset
4. Demonstration of spinal cord inflammation:
1. cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis or
2. elevated IgG index,or
3. MRI revealing a gadolinium-enhancing cord lesion
5. Exclusion of compressive, postradiation, neoplastic, and vascular causes
CRITERIA FOR DIAGNOSIS OF ACUTE TRANSVERSE
4. Inflammation within the spinal cord demonstrated by
I. CSF pleocytosis or
II. elevated IgG index or
III. gadolinium enhancement
• (If none of the inflammatory criteria is met at symptom onset, repeat MRI
and LP evaluation between 2–7 days following symptom onset).
• IgG index = : (CSF IgG + serum IgG) (CSF albumin + serum albumin)
MANAGEMENT OF TM
1. Care of the paraplegic patient
• Multidisciplinary rehab approach is key
2. Intravenous Steroids
3. Plasma Exchange (PLEX)
Corticosteroids have multiple mechanisms of action including
1. antiinflammatory activity
2. immunosuppressive properties
3. antiproliferative actions.
• high-dose methylprednisolone (30mg /kg (max 1 g) IV daily for 3–7
days) is typically first-line treatment
• early in the course is effective in shortening the duration of the disease
and in improving the outcome.
• If there is a poor response to high-dose steroids, other
therapeutic approaches include ;
1. intravenous immunoglobulin
2. plasma exchanges
Plasma Exchange (PLEX)
• PLEX is often initiated if a patient has moderate to severe TM
1. inability to walk
2. markedly impaired autonomic function
3. sensory loss in the lower extremities and
4. exhibits little clinical improvement after instituting 5 to
7days of intravenous steroids.
Natural History and Prognosis
The progression of symptoms in ATM
• often slows within 2 to 3 weeks of onset
• with a corresponding improvement in CSF and MRI abnormalities
• Evidence of at least some recovery is expected to begin within 6 months
• most patients show some improvement in neurologic function within 8 weeks
• although recovery can take a more prolonged course of up to 2 years
Residual neurologic deficits include
1. fixed weakness
2. sensory, or autonomic deficits.
3. Sphincter dysfunction improves more slowly than the other deficits.
ATM may be the presenting feature of MS, especially in patients with
1. partial ATM
2. abnormal initial brain MRI, in such cases, follow up MRIs should be considered.
History of other neurologic symptoms such as
1. internuclear ophthalmoplegia
2. optic neuritis
3. focal weakness and numbness that lasted at least 24 hours to days, have now
4. other lesions on brain/spine MRI at the time of presentation, and subsequent new
• pediatric outcomes are better than in adults, with children often regaining
• Spontaneous complete recovery (within weeks or months) in -40-50% of cases.
• Residual deficits (weakness of LL, bladder dysfunction) occur in the remaining
• The majority of patients with ATM have monophasic disease without recurrence.
• 1/3 pts have a complete recovery
• 1/3 pts have some residual deficit
• 1/3 pts have no improvement from nadir
risk factors for unfavorable outcomes at presentation, including
1. rapid progression to maximal neurologic deficit (<24 hours)
2. severe motor weakness
3. spinal shock
4. back pain as the initial complaint, and
5. sensory disturbances at the cervical level
1. Older age
2. increased deep tendon reflexes
3. presence of the Babinski sig