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Neurology. 2007 May 1;68(18):1474-80.

Acute transverse myelitis in childhood: center-based analysis of 47 cases.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



To relate clinical characteristics associated with acute transverse myelitis (ATM) in children with functional outcomes at follow-up.


We identified 47 patients for whom ATM occurred under the age of 18 years. Chart analysis, clinical evaluation, and administration of functional measures were completed.


The age at onset clustered between ages 0 to 2 and 5 to 17. Febrile illness had occurred in 47% and vaccination in 28%. Major disability at the nadir of the clinical course was noted. Eighty-nine percent were unable to walk, required assisted ventilation, or both. At a median of 3.2 years after acute illness, 43% were unable to walk 30 ft and 21% required a walker or other support, 68% experienced urinary urgency, 50% required bladder catheterization, 54% were troubled by persistent dysesthesias, and 75% had numbness. Factors associated with a better functional outcome included older age at time of diagnosis, shorter time to diagnosis, lower sensory and anatomic levels of spinal injury, absence of T1 hypointensity on spinal MRI obtained during the acute period, lack of white blood cells in the CSF, and fewer affected spinal cord segments. Neither rapid progression to maximum impairment in less than 1 day nor any antecedent illness, immunization, or trauma was associated with a worse outcome.


Persisting disability was present in many children with acute transverse myelitis. Urinary problems and sensory symptoms were the most common issues. Age at onset below 3 years was associated with worse functional outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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