History of Neurology: Seminal Citation
June 2005

Idiopathic Transverse Myelitis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.


Copyright 2005 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2005

Arch Neurol. 2005;62(6):1011-1013. doi:10.1001/archneur.62.6.1011

Reports in the medical literature of “acute myelitis” date back to 1882 and are credited to H. C. Bastain, MD Lond, FRS, a consulting physician to what was then called University College Hospital and the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic (London, England).1 He described several cases of acute myelitis resulting in “softening of the spinal cord.”2(p1531) He presented the pathologic findings of several autopsies from patients who died of the myelitis and divided the cases into those that he thought were due to “blood changes and toxins, often associated with feeble cardiac action, which may well act as causes of thrombosis in vessels of the spinal cord”2(p1532) and those that were due to acute inflammation. The “inflammatory” cases were postulated to be due to an infectious or an allergic mechanism.

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