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Transverse Myelopathy in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Report of Three Cases and Review of the Literature

ALEXANDER A. ANDRIANAKOS, M.D.; JOSEPH DUFFY, M.D.; MINORU SUZUKI, M.D.; and JOHN T. SHARP, M.D., F.A.C.P.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to John T. Sharp, M.D., Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX 77025.


Houston, Texas


Ann Intern Med. 1975;83(5):616-624. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-83-5-616
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Three cases of transverse myelopathy associated with systemic lupus erythematosus were reported, and 23 similar cases previously reported were reviewed. A diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus was made in only 60% before the onset of transverse myelopathy. The time of onset of myelopathy was randomly distributed during the disease. The most common presenting neurologic symptom was numbness, or weakness of the legs, or both. A unique association between the acute stage of transverse myelopathy and marked reduction of cerebrospinal fluid glucose concentration was observed. Thirteen patients died, 9 had permanent neurologic deficits, and only 4 recovered nearly normal function. Eight patients had Ischemic necrosis of the spinal cord at postmortem examination, and vascular lesions were found in the spinal cord of 3 additional patients. The value of steroid treatment was uncertain. Patients who were started on steroid therapy within 24 hours of the onset of myelopathy may have benefited.

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