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Clin Dev Immunol. 2011;2011:501369. doi: 10.1155/2011/501369. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Mycobacteria infection in incomplete transverse myelitis is refractory to steroids: a pilot study.

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Department of Neurology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, 2 Road 58 Zhongshan, Guangzhou 510080, China.


Incomplete transverse myelitis (ITM) of unknown origin is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. This prospective, open-label study was undertaken to determine whether antituberculous treatment (ATT) might help patients with ITM whose condition continues to deteriorate despite receiving IV methylprednisolone treatment. The study consisted of 67 patients with steroid-refractory ITM in whom Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) was suspected clinically and in whom other known causes of myelopathy were excluded. The study occurred from January 2003 to June 2010. Patients underwent trial chemotherapy with ATT. Efficacy was assessed by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scoring system, the Barthel Index (BI) and the Hauser Ambulation Index (AI) at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Of the 67 patients enrolled, 51 were assessed and 16 withdrew. At 24 months, 49 patients experienced benefits as indicated by significantly increased ASIA and BI scores. The Hauser AI index also improved with markedly decreased abnormal signals in spinal cord MRI over time. The results from this prospective study provide beneficial clinical and MRI data on the efficacy of ATT in ITM patients and suggests mycobacteria may be an important and neglected cause of myelitis.

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