Central pontine myelinolysis

Alternative Names

Osmotic demyelination syndrome

Definition of Central pontine myelinolysis

Central pontine myelinolysis is brain cell dysfunction caused by the destruction of the layer (myelin sheath) covering nerve cells in the brainstem (pons).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The destruction of the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells prevents signals from being properly transmitted in the nerve. This decreases the nerve’s ability to communicate with other cells.

Signs and tests

An examination may show:

Treatment

This is an emergency disorder. You will need to go to a hospital for diagnosis and treatment. However, most people with this condition are already in the hospital for another condition.

Expectations (prognosis)

The nerve damage caused by central pontine myelinolysis is usually long-lasting. The disorder can cause serious long-term (chronic) disability.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/27/2010

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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