ADEM is a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin. Recovery begins within days, and half will recover completely, while some cases of ADEM can be fatal.
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin – the protective covering of nerve fibers. ADEM often follows viral or bacterial infections, or less often, vaccination for measles, mumps, or rubella. It bears a striking clinical and pathological resemblance to multiple sclerosis (MS).
Treatment and Prognosis
Treatment for ADEM is targeted at suppressing inflammation in the brain using anti-inflammatory drugs. Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is often treated with high-dose intravenous corticosteroids, to which it appears to be responsive. Improvement may be observed within hours but usually requires several days.
Corticosteroid therapy can shorten the duration of neurological symptoms and halt further progression of the disease in the short term, but the long term prognosis for individuals with ADEM varies. For most, recovery begins within days, and half will recover completely. Others may have mild to moderate lifelong impairment. Severe cases of ADEM can be fatal. Some individuals who initially diagnosed as having ADEM will later be reclassified as MS, but there is currently no method to determine whom those individuals will be.
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