Pathology of Idiopathic Transverse Myelitis 

Principal Investigator: Michael Levy, MD, PhD

Study Site: Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Idiopathic transverse myelitis is rare, and spinal cord tissue demonstrating the pathology of idiopathic transverse myelitis is even rarer. In fact, there are no confirmed cases of human idiopathic transverse myelitis that have been published in the medical literature!

The reason we want to see the pathology of idiopathic transverse myelitis is because we need to know what is happening in the spinal cord at the time of an attack. We can stain for many different types of immune cells that may be involved. We can also get a sense of the target of the immune response – astrocytes, myelin, neurons and other structures. Getting a biopsy of the spinal cord is not routinely done to make a diagnosis of idiopathic TM. However, some patients with unique cases may have undergone a biopsy to rule out a tumor or other process. If you had a biopsy done in the past, and were ultimately diagnosed with idiopathic TM, we would like your permission to access the biopsy material and study it.

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