Keywords: Spine, Autonomic Dysfunction (PubMed Search)
Acute transverse myelitis (ATM) refers to inflammation of gray and white matter in one or more adjacent spinal cord segments leading to acute/subacute dysfunction of all cord functions (i.e., motor, sensory, and autonomic).
There is a bimodal peak between ages 10-19 years and ages 30-39 years.
Most cases are idiopathic
Some patients may have had a preceding viral infection or autoimmune disorder.
The thoracic cord is most commonly involved.
Onset is characterized by acute/subacute development of neurologic signs and symptoms consistent with motor weakness, sensory changes or autonomic dysfunction.
Pain in the head, neck, and/or back may occur.
Motor and sensory changes occur below the level of the lesion and are more likely to be bilateral.
Motor symptoms include a rapidly progressing paraparesis.
Autonomic dysfunction may include urinary urgency or difficulty voiding, bowel or bladder incontinence, tenesmus, constipation, and sexual dysfunction.
Despite its low incidence, consider in a patient presents with a classic constellation of symptoms,
Rapid identification, and early initiation of treatment predicts the best outcomes
Diagnosis: whole spine MRI with and without gadolinium
Management: goals include reducing cord inflammation (IV glucocorticoids), alleviating symptoms (pain management, bladder decompression), and treating underlying causes (e.g., infections, autoimmune) as appropriate.