What is the role of high-dose corticosteroids 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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Theoretically, very high-dose corticosteroids (30-50 mg/kg) administered intravenously at presentation to patients with transverse myelitis may be advantageous from the vantage point of its capacity to close the blood-brain barrier and limit swelling. Marked cord swelling may account for poor outcome in some cases of transverse myelitis because of circulatory impairment and cord infarction. The same argument may hold true for severe cerebral ADEM such as tends to arise in some young children (< 3 y old) who also may have marked permanent neurologic impairments after severe ADEM.

There is as yet no convincing evidence that treatment with the combination of intravenous corticosteroids and IVIG confers any advantage in such cases, although this approach is employed by some clinicians.

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