Transverse Myelitis

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Transverse Myelitis is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Transverse myelitis (TM) is a rare inflammatory disease causing injury to the spinal cord with varying degrees of weakness, sensory alterations, and autonomic dysfunction (the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary activity, such as the heart, breathing, the digestive system, and reflexes).

The first cases of acute myelitis were described in 1882 and were attributed to vascular lesions and acute inflammatory events. In England between 1922 and 1923 more than 200 postvaccinial cases were noted as complications of the smallpox and rabies vaccines. Later reports revealed that TM was post-infectious in nature, and agents including measles, rubella and mycoplasma were directly isolated from patient's spinal fluid. The term "acute transverse myelitis" was first used by an English neurologist in 1948 to describe a case of rapidly progressive paraparesis with a thoracic sensory level, occurring as a postinfectious complication of pneumonia. The Transverse Myelitis Consortium Working Group delineated diagnostic criteria for disease-associated TM and idiopathic TM along with a framework to differentiate TM from non-inflammatory myelopathies in 2002.

Supporting Organizations

Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, Inc.

206 South Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 62701
Springfield, IL 62701
Tel: (217)753-1190
Fax: (217)525-1271

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

636 Morris Turnpike, Suite 3A
Short Hills, NJ 7078
Tel: (973)379-2690
Fax: (973)912-9433
Tel: (800)225-0292

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424

National Spinal Cord Injury Association

75-20 Astoria Blvd
Jackson Heights, NY 11370
Tel: (718)803-3782
Tel: (800)962-9629

Spinal Cord Society

19051 County Hwy. 1
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Tel: (218)739-5252
Fax: (218)739-5262

Transverse Myelitis Association

1787 Sutter Parkway
Powell, OH 43065-8806
Tel: (614)766-1806

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

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This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  5/20/2016
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.