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Open Access Case report

Patient with neuromyelitis optica and inflammatory demyelinating lesions comprising whole spinal cord from C2 level till conus: case report

Zeljka Petelin Gadze1*, Sanja Hajnsek1, Silvio Basic2, Davor Sporis2, Goran Pavlisa3 and Sibila Nankovic1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology of the School of Medicine and Zagreb University Hospital Centre, Zagreb, Croatia

2 Department of Neurology, Dubrava University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia

3 Department of Radiology of the School of Medicine and Zagreb University Hospital Centre, Zagreb, Croatia

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BMC Neurology 2009, 9:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-56

Published: 23 October 2009

Abstract

Background

Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an idiopathic, severe, inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, that causes severe optic neuritis and myelitis attacks. Early discrimination between multiple sclerosis (MS) and NMO is important, as optimum treatment for both diseases may differ considerably.

Case Presentation

We report a case of a patient who initially presented as longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM), having spastic upper extremities diparesis and spastic paraplegia, C2/C3 sensory level and urinary incontinence, as well as extensive inflammatory spinal cord lesions from C2 level to conus. After 5 months the patient had another attack of transverse myelitis, had electrophysiological findings consistent with optic neuritis, was seropositive for NMO-IgG (aquaporin-4 IgG) and thus fulfilled NMO diagnostic criteria. Following treatment of disease attacks with pulse corticosteroid therapy and intravenous immunoglobulins, we included oral azathioprine in a combination with oral prednisone in the therapy. Since there was no significant clinical improvement, we decided to use cyclophosphamide therapy, which resulted in good clinical improvement and gradual decrease of cord swelling.

Conclusion

In this NMO case report we wanted to emphasize the extensiveness of inflammatory spinal cord changes in our patient, from C2 level to conus. In the conclusion it is important to say that accurate, early diagnosis and distinction from MS is critical to facilitate initiation of immunosuppressive therapy for attack prevention.