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Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Synonyms

  • ADEM

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Summary
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a neurological, immune-mediated disorder in which widespread inflammation of the brain and spinal cord damages tissue known as white matter. White matter is tissue composed of nerve fibers, many of which are covered by a collection of fats and proteins known as myelin. Myelin, which collectively may be referred to as the myelin sheath, protects the nerve fibers, acts as an insulator and increases the speed of transmission of nerve signals. Damage to the myelin sheath (demyelination) affects the nerve's ability to transmit information and potentially can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms. The specific symptoms and severity of ADEM can vary from one individual to another. In some cases, ADEM is preceded by a viral infection or vaccination. The exact cause the disorder is unknown although it is believed that an improper response of the immune system plays a role its development. ADEM must be differentiated from other demyelinating disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

Introduction
A variety of different terms have been used to describe ADEM in the medical literature creating confusion. The International Pediatric MS Study Group proposed three specific terms to describe the disorder. ADEM, which describes individuals who develop the initial illness that characterizes the disorder; recurrent disseminated encephalomyelitis (RDEM); which describes a new occurrence of ADEM, three or more months after the initial occurrence, that has the same clinical presentation and affects the same areas of the central nervous system; and multiphasic disseminated encephalomyelitis (MDEM), which describes one or more relapses of ADEM, at least three months after the initial occurrence and involving new areas of the central nervous system. Some researchers argue that it is unclear whether cases of RDEM or MDEM represent recurrent or multiphasic cases of ADEM or are actually other conditions such as multiple sclerosis. More research is necessary to accurately and definitively define acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.

Resources

United Leukodystrophy Foundation
224 N. 2nd St.
Suite 2
DeKalb, IL 60115
Tel: (815)748-3211
Tel: (800)728-5483
Email: office@ulf.org
Internet: http://www.ulf.org/

Transverse Myelitis Association
1787 Sutter Parkway
Powell, OH 43065-8806
USA
Tel: (614)766-1806
Email: info@myelitis.org
Internet: http://www.myelitis.org

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
TDD: (301)468-5981
Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org 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. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

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.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

Last Updated:  3/13/2013
Copyright  2013 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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