When is steroid therapy tapered in the treatment of 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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Though there is conflicting data, at least two studies have presented data suggesting that steroid taper of 3 weeks or less may increase the risk of relapse in ADEM. [47, 63]

Taper-related recurrence occurs in as many as 3-5% of cases and usually responds to prolongation of taper. Similar phenomena occur in other postinfectious diseases, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or opsoclonus-myoclonus. A subset of patients manifest repeated recurrences that prevent discontinuation of corticosteroids or necessitate changing to various steroid-sparing treatments such as cyclophosphamide or beta-interferons. This rare and interesting subgroup tends to have onset of disease before 6 years of age, and despite recurrence, these children do not manifest evidence for CSF immune profile (ie, IgG index, IgG synthetic rate, oligoclonal bands) abnormality. The relationship of this group to patients with ADEM or MS or some other form of inflammatory CNS illness remains unclear.

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