Acute Transverse Myelitis Treatment in Children

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Testing and treatment of ATM usually requires a child to be hospitalized for one to two weeks.

Medications are used to reduce the inflammation (swelling) in the spinal cord. The main medication that is used is called methylprednisolone (Solu-medrol®), which is a corticosteroid given by IV once a day for three to five days. This medication is completely different from the illegal steroids that some athletes use.

Most children with ATM improve with high doses of methylprednisolone. If this medication doesn't work, there are other treatments that can be tried (such as plasmapheresis or intravenous immunoglobulin therapy).

What are the side effects of the treatment?

Most children tolerate the steroids (the medication) very well. But in some children there are side effects such as:

  • temporary moodiness or other behavioral changes
  • increases in blood pressure and blood sugar, which your child's doctor or nurse will be monitoring and can treat if necessary
  • irritated stomach lining, which can be prevented with a medication such as ranitidine (Zantac®)

Will my child leave the hospital on medications?

Some children will be placed on a steroid called prednisone for a short period of time. Your child may also be prescribed a medication to prevent stomach irritation.

If your child is experiencing pain, a pain management plan will be developed.

What will the follow-up be after my child is discharged from the hospital?

After discharge from the hospital, some children go to a rehabilitation hospital to work on things like strength and balance. Some children go home and work with a physical therapist.

It is important to follow up with the neurologist in the outpatient clinic. The neurologist will check your child's neurological examination, and will also perform a follow-up MRI.

Will the abnormalities on the MRI go away?

In most children, the abnormalities on the MRI will significantly improve or go away completely. Some areas may have a small "scar." Your child's doctor will use the follow-up MRI to make sure that there are no new abnormalities developing.

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