Transverse Myelitis

Clinical Manifestations, Pathogenesis, and Management
  • Chitra Krishnan
  • Adam I. Kaplin
  • Deepa M. Deshpande
  • Carlos A. Pardo
  • Douglas A. Kerr
Part of the Current Clinical Neurology book series (CCNEU)


First described in 1882, and termed acute transverse myelitis (TM) in 1948 (1), TM is a rare syndrome with an incidence of between one and eight new cases per million people per year (2). TM is characterized by focal inflammation within the spinal cord and clinical manifestations are caused by resultant neural dysfunction of motor, sensory, and autonomic pathways within and passing through the inflamed area. There is often a clearly defined rostral border of sensory dysfunction and evidence of acute inflammation demonstrated by a spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and lumbar puncture. When the maximal level of deficit is reached, approx 50% of patients have lost all movements of their legs, virtually all patients have some degree of bladder dysfunction, and 80 to 94% of patients have numbness, paresthesias, or band-like dysesthesias (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Autonomic symptoms consist variably of increased urinary urgency, bowel or bladder incontinence, difficulty or inability to void, incomplete evacuation or bowel, constipation, and sexual dysfunction (8). Like multiple sclerosis (MS) (9), TM is the clinical manifestation of a variety of disorders with distinct presentations and pathologies (10). Recently, we proposed a diagnostic and classification scheme that has defined TM as either idiopathic or associated with a known inflammatory disease (i.e., MS, systemic lupus erythematosus [SLE], Sjogren’s syndrome, or neurosarcoidosis) (11). Most TM patients have monophasic disease, although up to 20% will have recurrent inflammatory episodes within the spinal cord (Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center [JHTMC] case series, unpublished data) (12,13).


Spinal Cord Multiple Sclerosis Neuromyelitis Optica Transverse Myelitis Miller Fisher Syndrome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chitra Krishnan
    • 1
  • Adam I. Kaplin
    • 2
  • Deepa M. Deshpande
    • 1
  • Carlos A. Pardo
    • 1
  • Douglas A. Kerr
    • 1
  1. 1.Transverse Myelitis Center, Department of NeurologyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimore
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltmore

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