Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre

Welcome to the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre. This website is intended for international healthcare professionals with an interest in Multiple Sclerosis. By clicking the link below you are declaring and confirming that you are a healthcare professional

You are here

Myelitis: Differences between multiple sclerosis and other aetiologies

S. Presas-Rodríguez, L. Grau-López, J.V. Hervás-García, A. Massuet-Vilamajó, C. Ramo-Tello

Neurología, Available online 14 September 2015, doi:10.1016/j.nrl.2015.07.006



Myelitis can appear as an initial symptom in the context of demyelinating diseases, systemic inflammatory diseases, and infectious diseases. We aim to analyse the differences between myelitis associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) and myelitis resulting from other aetiologies.


Single-centre, retrospective analysis of patients with initial myelitis (2000-2013). Demographic, aetiological, clinical, radiological and prognostic variables were analysed and compared between patients with myelitis from MS and those with myelitis due to other aetiologies.


We included 91 patients; mean follow-up was 7 years. Diagnoses were as follows: MS 57 (63%), idiopathic transverse myelitis 22 (24%), associated systemic diseases 6 (7%), and other diagnoses (6%). Myelitis due to MS was associated with younger age of onset (35 ± 11 vs. 41 ± 13; P  =  .02), more pronounced sphincter involvement (40.4 vs. 27.3%; P=.05), greater multifocal involvement in spinal MRI (77.2 vs. 26.5%; P=.001), shorter lesion extension (2.4 vs. 1.4 vertebral segments; P=.001), cervical location (82.5 vs. 64.7%; P=.05) and posterior location (89.5 vs. 41.2%; P=.001). Myelitis due to other aetiologies more frequently showed anterior location (47.1 vs. 24.6%; P=.02), and central cord involvement (47.1 vs. 14.1%; P=.001), with better recovery at one year of follow up (EDSS 2.0 vs. 1.5; P=.01). Multivariate analysis showed that multifocal spinal cord involvement (OR 9.38, 95% CI: 2.04-43.1) and posterior cord involvement (OR 2.16, 95% CI: 2.04-2.67) were independently associated with the diagnosis of MS.


A high percentage of patients with an initial myelitis event will be diagnosed with MS. The presence of multifocal and posterior spinal cord lesions was significantly associated with the diagnosis of MS.

Search this site

Stay up-to-date with our monthly e-alert

If you want to regularly receive information on what is happening in MS research sign up to our e-alert.

Subscribe »

About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

This online Resource Centre has been made possible by a donation from EMD Serono, Inc., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Note that EMD Serono, Inc., has no editorial control or influence over the content of this Resource Centre. The Resource Centre and all content therein are subject to an independent editorial review.

The Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation
supports promising translational research projects by academic researchers to improve understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the ultimate benefit of patients.  For full information and application details, please click here

Journal Editor's choice

Recommended by Prof. Brenda Banwell

Causes of death among persons with multiple sclerosis

Gary R. Cutter, Jeffrey Zimmerman, Amber R. Salter, et al.

Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, September 2015, Vol 4 Issue 5