Postinfectious neurologic syndromes: A prospective cohort study

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Abstract

Objectives:

Postinfectious neurologic syndromes (PINSs) of the CNS include heterogeneous disorders, sometimes relapsing. In this study, we aimed to a) describe the spectrum of PINSs; b) define predictors of outcome in PINSs; and c) assess the clinical/paraclinical features that help differentiate PINSs from multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods:

In this prospective cohort study, adult inpatients with PINSs underwent extensive diagnostic assessment and therapeutic protocols at inclusion and during a minimum 2-year follow-up. We compared them with newly diagnosed, treatment-naive patients with MS, also prospectively recruited.

Results:

The study sample comprised 176 patients with PINSs aged 59.9 ± 17.25 years (range: 18–80 years) divided into 2 groups: group 1 (CNS syndromes, 64%)—encephalitis, encephalomyelitis, or myelitis; and group 2 (CNS + peripheral nervous system [PNS] syndromes, 36%)—encephalomyeloradiculoneuritis or myeloradiculoneuritis. We observed the patients for 24 to 170 months (median 69 months). Relapses, almost invariably involving the spinal cord, occurred in 30.5%. PNS involvement was an independent risk factor for relapses (hazard ratio 2.8). The outcome was poor in 43% of patients; risk factors included older age, greater neurologic disability at onset, higher serum-CSF albumin percentage transfer, myelitis, and PNS involvement. Steroid resistance occurred in 30% of the patients, half of whom responded favorably to IV immunoglobulins. Compared with MS, PINSs were characterized by older age, lower tendency to relapse, and distinct CSF findings.

Conclusions:

The category of PINSs should be revised: most of the clinical variants have a poor prognosis and are not readily classifiable on the basis of current knowledge. PNS involvement has a critical role in relapses, which seem to affect the spine only.

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