Multiple sclerosis-associated myelitis has distinct characteristics, early detection with MRI scan possible: Study

By: Emily Lunardo | Brain Function | Friday, May 13, 2016 - 02:30 PM

Multiple sclerosis associated myelitisMultiple sclerosis-associated myelitis has distinct characteristics, making early detection with MRI and ensuing early treatment possible. Researchers found that patients with myelitis who later develop multiple sclerosis may be distinguished from other cases through distinct characteristics – such as the location and size of spinal cord lesions. These findings may help better scan for multiple sclerosis before it develops.

Myelitis is a condition characterized by the spinal cord inflammation, which has been found to be indicative of many other conditions. Multiple sclerosis is one of those conditions that may stem from demyelination.

The researchers looked at 91 patients who received care due to an initial myelitis episode. Of the participants, 63 percent were later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Others were diagnosed with idiopathic transverse myelitis (24 percent) and associated systemic diseases (seven percent). Another six percent were grouped together under the ‘other’ category.

Myelitis was associated with multiple sclerosis in younger patients who had greater widespread lesions identified by MRI.

The main symptom of myelitis is the difficulty to control bowel movements.

The findings must be replicated to confirm study results as a means to speed up the process of multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Transverse myelitis and its relation to multiple sclerosis

Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of both sides of the spinal cord. Inflammation causes damage to nerve-protecting myelin. Normally, individuals with transverse myelitis will only have one attack, but some patients will have more than one.

The cause of transverse myelitis is unclear, but it is speculated to be a result of an autoimmune condition. Transverse myelitis can develop from an infection including hepatitis and varicella zoster, along with bacterial skin infections.

Females have the highest rates of transverse myelitis, and symptoms can appear suddenly. Annual cases of transverse myelitis are 1.34 to 4.60 per million, but raise to 24.6 per one million if acquired demyelinating diseases like multiple sclerosis are included. Roughly 15 to 43 percent of transverse myelitis patients will go on to develop multiple sclerosis.

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