What are the mortality rates for acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)?

Updated: Nov 08, 2018
  • Author: J Nicholas Brenton, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Although older studies suggest a 10% mortality rate, the data upon which such estimates were based were obtained in epochs during which measles was prevalent, techniques for intensive care were comparatively primitive, and anti-inflammatory therapies were inadequate. Formerly, deaths occurred in patients with AHLE, a severe ADEM variant, which has become less common since children have received immunization to many common childhood illnesses.

Current acute mortality rates are probably less than 2%, typically consisting of cases with fulminant cervical transverse myelitis or brain swelling. Children younger than 2 years are particularly subject to such severe presentations. [37] See the image below.

Fatal case of ADEM involving the brainstem in a 13 Fatal case of ADEM involving the brainstem in a 13-month-old.

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