Transverse Myelitis Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is ranked No. 1 in Illinois and No. 10 in the nation for Neurology & Neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report, 2022–2023. Our multidisciplinary transverse myelitis team provides comprehensive, coordinated care for patients with transverse myelitis. This is a rare inflammatory condition that affects the spinal cord.
Comprehensive Care for Transverse Myelitis
Experts at the Northwestern Medicine Transverse Myelitis Clinic specialize in the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of transverse myelitis, a rare inflammatory condition that affects the spinal cord.
Your care team may include experts in:
- Neurologic infections
- Neuro-interventional radiology
- Pain management
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation
These experts strive to provide the most comprehensive care to patients with transverse myelitis. Your care team will work with you to create a treatment plan designed to meet your needs.
Meet The Team
Transverse myelitis can have many causes. Knowing the cause is important to finding the right treatment and trying to prevent the recurrence or other symptoms, involving other parts of the nervous system. While in some patients transverse myelitis is monophasic, in others transverse myelitis is the first symptom of an autoimmune disease. These may include multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein associated demyelination (MOGAD), sarcoidosis or others.
In some cases, the cause of transverse myelitis is never found.
The diagnosis typically involves undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and spinal cord, done with gadolinium contrast, as well as a lumbar puncture to evaluate cerebrospinal fluid for evidence of inflammation. In some instances, serial MRIs may be necessary.
Your doctor may also order blood tests to evaluate for systemic causes of transverse myelitis.
Early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition may help prevent recurrence of transverse myelitis. It may also reduce the risk of other neurological issues. In the acute stage of inflammation, patients typically receive intravenous steroids and may or may not need a second line therapy such as plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) or intravenous immunoglobulins infusions (IVIG). Some cases may require the use of other immunosuppressive treatments such as rituximab, mycophenolate mofetil, azathioprine or cyclophosphamide.
Patients may experience gaps in care for the treatment of a variety of symptoms associated with transverse myelitis. In many cases, patients may not seek care. Northwestern Medicine expert care teams use a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to make sure patients' unique treatment needs are met.
Clinical Trials and Research
As part of an academic medical center, our mission is to provide high-quality, comprehensive care for people with brain and spinal cord disorders. We also develop new, more effective treatments for these disorders. In addition, we train a new generation of experts to advance knowledge in this field. Clinical trials are part of research. They are at the heart of all medical advances. Browse clinical trials to learn if you are eligible for one.