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About opticomyelitis

What is opticomyelitis?

Neuromyelitis optica, also known as Devic disease (DD), is a chronic disorder of nerve tissue characterized by inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) and inflammation of the spinal cord (myelitis). There appear to be two forms of this disease. In the classical, but less common monophasic type, one or both optic nerves and the spinal cord are affected by a series of attacks over a short period of time (days or weeks) but, after the initial outburst, there is no recurrence. The second form is more common and is characterized by repeated attacks separated by periods of remission. In this form, the interval between attacks may be weeks, months or years. In its early stages, Devic disease may be confused with multiple sclerosis.

What are the symptoms for opticomyelitis?

Neuromyelitis optica can cause Blindness in one or both eyes, Weakness or Paralysis in the legs or arms, painful spasms, loss of sensation, uncontrollable Vomiting and hiccups, and bladder or bowel dysfunction from spinal cord damage. Children can have confusion, Seizures or Coma with NMO. Neuromyelitis optica flare-ups might be reversible, but they can be severe enough to cause permanent visual loss and problems with walking.

What are the causes for opticomyelitis?

The cause of neuromyelitis optica is usually unknown, although it sometimes appears after an infection, or it can be associated with another autoimmune condition. Neuromyelitis optica is often misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis (MS) or perceived as a type of MS, but NMO is a distinct condition.

What are the treatments for opticomyelitis?

Neuromyelitis optica can't be cured, though long-term remission is sometimes possible with the right management. NMO treatment involves therapies to reverse recent symptoms and prevent future attacks.

Is there a cure/medications for opticomyelitis?

  • Reversing recent symptoms. In the early stage of an NMO attack, your doctor might give you a corticosteroid medication, methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol), through a vein in your arm (intravenously). You'll be given the medication for about five days, and then the medication will be tapered off slowly over several days.

    Plasma exchange is frequently recommended as the first or second treatment, usually in addition to steroid therapy. In this procedure, some blood is removed from your body, and blood cells are mechanically separated from fluid (plasma). Doctors mix your blood cells with a replacement solution and return the blood to your body.

    Doctors can also help manage other possible symptoms, such as pain or muscle problems.

  • Preventing future attacks. Doctors might recommend that you take a lower dose of corticosteroids over time to prevent future NMO attacks and relapses.

    Your doctor might also recommend taking a medication that suppresses your immune system. Immunosuppressive medications that may be prescribed include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate (Cellcept) or rituximab (Rituxan).

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