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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