Overview

Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a central nervous system disorder that primarily affects the eye nerves (optic neuritis) and the spinal cord (myelitis). NMO is also known as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder or Devic's disease. It occurs when your body's immune system reacts against its own cells in the central nervous system, mainly in the optic nerves and spinal cord, but sometimes in the brain.

The cause of neuromyelitis optica is usually unknown, although it may sometimes appear after an infection, or it may be associated with another autoimmune condition. Neuromyelitis optica is often misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis (MS) or perceived as a type of MS, but NMO is a distinct condition.

Neuromyelitis optica may cause blindness in one or both eyes, weakness or paralysis in the legs or arms, painful spasms, loss of sensation, uncontrollable vomiting and hiccups, and bladder or bowel dysfunction from spinal cord damage. Children may experience confusion, seizures or coma with NMO. Neuromyelitis optica flare-ups may be reversible, but can be severe enough to cause permanent visual loss and problems with walking.

Neuromyelitis optica care at Mayo Clinic

Dec. 15, 2017
References
  1. Weinshenker BG, et al. Neuromyelitis spectrum disorders. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2017;92:663.
  2. Daroff RB, et al. Multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. In: Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
  3. Yanoff M, et al., eds. Inflammatory optic neuropathies and neuroretinitis. In: Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
  4. Glisson CC. Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 2, 2017.
  5. Symptoms and diagnosis of NMO. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Related-Conditions/Neuromyelitis-Optica-(NMO)/Symptoms-and-Diagnosis. Accessed Sept. 10, 2017.
  6. Wingerechuk DM, et al. Revised diagnostic criteria for neuromyelitis optica. Neurology. 2006;66:1485.
  7. Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 27, 2017.
  8. Network of pediatric MS centers. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Who-Gets-MS/Pediatric-MS/Care-for-Pediatric-MS-(Centers-of-Excellence). Accessed Sept. 10, 2017.
  9. Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 27, 2017.

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