The frequency of longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis in MS: A population-based study

Solmaz Asnafi, P. Pearse Morris, Elia Sechi, Sean J. Pittock, Brian G. Weinshenker, Jacqueline Palace, Silvia Messina, Eoin P. Flanagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Determining the frequency of longitudinally-extensive transverse myelitis (LETM: T2-lesion ≥3 vertebral segments) in multiple sclerosis (MS) is essential to assess its utility in differentiating from aquaporin-4-IgG (AQP4-IgG) positive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and myelin-oligodendrocyte-glycoprotein-IgG (MOG-IgG) myelitis. We sought to determine the frequency of LETM in MS during a myelitis attack. Methods: We identified Olmsted County (MN, USA) residents on 12/31/2011 with inflammatory demyelinating disease. Inclusion criteria were: 1) Clinical myelitis episode accompanied by a new spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lesion (≤6 weeks from onset); 2) MS diagnosis by 2010 McDonald criteria; 3) Seronegative for AQP4-IgG and MOG-IgG. MRI characteristics were determined. Results: Sixty-seven patients (median age at myelitis: 41 years [range, 16–65]; 76% females) with 92 myelitis attacks accompanied by a new MRI spinal cord lesion were identified. The frequency of LETM was 0%. The median T2-hyperintense lesion length in vertebral segments was 1.0 (range, 0.5–2.5) and 82/92 (89%) were peripheral in location on axial sequences; 58% had associated gadolinium enhancement. Two patients (2% of attacks) had multiple short lesions resembling LETM on sagittal images but axial sequences confirmed multiple non-contiguous short lesions. Conclusion: LETM is rare in adult MS myelitis and its presence should prompt evaluation for AQP4-IgG, MOG-IgG or other etiologies. Careful scrutiny of axial images is important as coalescence of multiple short lesions may lead to the artifactual appearance of an LETM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101487
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Aquaporin-4
  • Longitudinally extensive spinal cord lesion
  • Longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein
  • Myelitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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