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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
von Hippel-Lindau disease
Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)
Adult brain tumors
Pediatric brain tumors
Transient ischemic attack
Cavernous sinus thrombosis
Spinocerebellar ataxia (NORD)
Tethered spinal cord syndrome
Lewy body dementia
Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis
Central pontine myelinolysis
JC virus (Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy)
Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (NORD)
Restless legs syndrome
Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy (NORD)
Cauda equina syndrome
Treponema pallidum (Syphilis)
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Concussion and traumatic brain injury
Spinal muscular atrophy
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome
Adult brain tumors: Pathology review
Central nervous system infections: Pathology review
Cerebral vascular disease: Pathology review
Congenital neurological disorders: Pathology review
Dementia: Pathology review
Demyelinating disorders: Pathology review
Headaches: Pathology review
Movement disorders: Pathology review
Neurocutaneous disorders: Pathology review
Neuromuscular junction disorders: Pathology review
Pediatric brain tumors: Pathology review
Seizures: Pathology review
Spinal cord disorders: Pathology review
Traumatic brain injury: Pathology review
Transverse Myelitis: Snapshot of a rare disease
The name of the disorder transverse myelitis can be broken down. Transverse means extending completely across something - in this case, it refers to going across the spinal cord, and myelitis means inflammation of myelin which is the fatty substance surrounding nerves.
So, in transverse myelitis there’s inflammation that damages the myelin as well as the rest of the neuron across a section of the spinal cord.
Now, neurons are the main cells of the nervous system. They’re composed of a cell body, which contains all the cell’s organelles, and nerve fibers, which are projections that extend out from the neuron cell body.
Nerve fibers are either dendrites that receive signals from other neurons, or axons that send signals along to other neurons.
Where two neurons come together is called a synapse, and that’s where one end of an axon sends neurotransmitters to the dendrites or directly to the cell body of the next neuron in the series.
The axons are intermittently wrapped in a fatty substance called myelin.
Myelin is extremely important to neurons, because it helps to allow an action potential to propagate much faster.
An action potential is an electrical signal that races down the axon, triggering the release of neurotransmitters or a chemical signal, on the other end.
Without myelin this signal propagation is very slow and inefficient.
Since some of these neurons can be very long, especially ones that go from the spinal cord to the toes, the fact that myelin helps speed up action potentials is super important!
Now, the spinal cord is composed of both grey and white matter.
Grey matter consists of cell bodies. It’s in the middle of the spinal cord and is shaped like a butterfly.
Surrounding the grey matter is white matter, which consists of the myelinated axons of various neurons.
Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder characterized by an inflammation that damages the myelin as well as the rest of the neurons across a section of the spinal cord. It's a rare disease that can be triggered by an infectious or autoimmune process.
The symptoms are related to the affected part of the spinal cord. When the corticospinal tract is affected a person will have problems with voluntary movement, and when the spinothalamic tract is damaged a person will have problems sensing pain. If it is the dorsal column pathway that is damaged, a person will have problems with balance and spatial orientation.
Diagnosis can be done with a lumbar puncture which is when a needle is used to collect and analyze cerebrospinal fluid from around the spinal cord. In addition, an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, can be used to spot areas of inflammation in the spinal cord. Treatment of transverse myelitis depends on the underlying cause. If there's an autoimmune process, it may be helpful to use steroids or plasmapheresis, which is where antibodies are filtered out of the blood.
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