How is acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) diagnosed in infants?

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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The classification of rare severe infantile cases, exhibiting features suggesting either severe acute MS or hyperacute ADEM, remains in doubt.

  • Nonetheless, pathological confirmation that some of these cases are MS has been published, [79] and hyperacute adult cases with similar clinical and radiographic manifestations have been reported. [81]

  • Some of these cases display more generalized T2-weighted abnormalities on MRI and may represent cases of what has been referred to as acute toxic encephalopathy.

  • Emphasizing that scan results do not reliably distinguish every case of MS from ADEM is important, but in most cases, reliable inferences may be drawn. Extensive white matter involvement may be found in young infants that some would label as MS [80] while others would label it hyperacute ADEM.

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