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How is transverse myelitis involved in NMO?

Published on April 2, 2010

Benjamin Greenberg, MD – UT Southwestern:

By definition, transverse myelitis means inflammation of the spinal cord. And as many people know, neuromyelitis optica can cause transverse myelitis, but not all patients with transverse myelitis have neuromyelitis optica. When a patient presents with inflammation of the spinal cord, they’re diagnosed with transverse myelitis. But we have to do an evaluation to determine the cause. In some patients the cause will be NMO, but in others the cause may be multiple sclerosis or a disease called sarcoidosis or in some instances, we don’t find a cause. Those patients are diagnosed with idiopathic transverse myelitis. It’s important to have conversations with your clinician when diagnosed with transverse myelitis as to whether or not it is a primary condition or if it’s secondary to something like NMO.

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