Treatment at Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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Doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologists) and others have experience treating people with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and other neurological conditions.

Neuromyelitis optica resembles multiple sclerosis (MS) in several ways, but requires different types of treatment.

Neuromyelitis optica can't be cured, but doctors can help you manage your condition and symptoms. NMO treatment involves therapies to reverse recent symptoms and prevent future attacks.

  • Care to reverse recent symptoms. In the early stage of an NMO attack, your doctor may give you a corticosteroid medication, methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol), through a vein in your arm (intravenously). You'll usually take the medication for about five days, and then the medication will be tapered off slowly over several days.

    If corticosteroids don't help, your doctor may recommend plasma exchange (plasmapheresis). In this procedure, some blood is removed from your body, and blood cells are mechanically separated from fluid (plasma). Doctors mix your blood cells with a replacement solution and return the blood into your body.

    Doctors can also help manage other symptoms you may experience, such as pain or muscle problems.

  • Preventing future attacks. Doctors may recommend you take a lower dose of corticosteroids for an extensive period of time to prevent future NMO attacks and relapses.

    Your doctor may also recommend taking a medication that suppresses your immune system, in addition to corticosteroids, to prevent future NMO attacks. Immunosuppressive medications that may be prescribed include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept) or rituximab (Rituxan).

Dec. 10, 2012

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