Conditions and diseases

Inflammatory diseases of the nervous system

Symptoms and causes

What is it?

A group of inflammatory diseases which affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

What types of diseases are there?

  • Infectious diseases: inflammation of the central nervous system as a reaction to pathogens such as viruses or bacteria.
    • Meningitis (inflammation of the dura mater)
    • Encephalitis (infectious disease where the brain tissue outside the dura mater is also affected)
    • Myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord)
  • Inflammatory diseases: inflammation of the central nervous system based on an unregulated defense mechanism of the body itself (auto-immune conditions).
    • Multiple Sclerosis and related conditions
      Multiple Sclerosis is the most common inflammatory disease where the brain and the spinal cord are affected in various places and at various times. Related conditions that are less common are, for example, neuromyelitis optica, ADEM and Susac syndrome.
    • Systemic diseases
      Inflammatory diseases that affect multiple organs, including the brain and the spinal cord. Example of these include Beh├žet disease, sarcoidosis, and lupus erythematodes.
    • Other, rare, inflammatory disease
      These include, for example, auto-immune encephalitis, vasculitis, etc.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis

Diagnosing these diseases can sometimes be simple, but it is often challenging. Common tests are an NMR test of the brain and/or spinal cord, and a lumbar puncture.

Treatment

Treatment varies greatly for infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. The latter often requires a multidisciplinary approach by a team of specialists and para-medical personnel (physical therapists, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists).

Treatment centres and specialisations

Neurology

Latest publication date: 05/08/2021
Supervising author: Dr Aers Isabelle