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BACKGROUND: Transverse myelitis (TM) is an immune-mediated disorder of the spinal cord that affects adults and children and that causes motor, sensory and autonomic dysfunction. There is a prolonged recovery phase, which may continue for many years. Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an uncommon relapsing inflammatory central nervous system condition in which TM can be the first presenting symptom. As TM and NMO affect many patients in the prime of their working life, the disorder can impose a significant demand on health resources. There are currently no robust controlled trials in children or adults to inform the optimal treatment of TM. However, treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is being effectively used in the management of a range of neurological conditions. Although other interventions such as plasma exchange (PLEX) in addition to intravenous (IV) methylprednisolone therapy can be beneficial in TM, PLEX is costly and technically challenging to deliver in the acute setting. IVIG is more readily accessible and less costly. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether additional and early treatment with IVIG is of extra benefit in TM compared with standard therapy with IV steroids. DESIGN: A multicentre, single-blind, parallel-group randomised controlled trial of IVIG compared with standard therapy for the treatment of TM in adults and children. PARTICIPANTS: Patients aged ≥ 1 year diagnosed with either acute first-onset TM or first presentation of NMO. Target recruitment was 170 participants (85 participants per arm). INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomised 1 : 1 to treatment with IV methylprednisolone only or treatment with IV methylprednisolone plus 2 g/kg of IVIG in divided doses within 5 days of the first commencement of steroid therapy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcome measure - American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale at 6 months post randomisation, with a good outcome defined by a two-grade change. Secondary and tertiary outcome measures - ASIA motor and sensory scales, Expanded Disability Status Scale, health outcome, quality of life, Client Service Receipt Inventory and International Spinal Cord Injury Pain, Bladder and Bowel Basic Data Sets. RESULTS: In total, 26 participants were screened and two were randomised into the study. With the limited sample size, treatment effect could not be determined. However, we identified barriers to accrual that included strict inclusion criteria, the short enrolment window, challenges associated with the use of the ASIA Impairment Scale as an outcome measure and estimation of the incidence of TM. CONCLUSIONS: The study did not reach the end point and the effect of IVIG in TM/NMO could not be determined. Investigators should be aware of the potential challenges associated with carrying out a rare disease trial with a short enrolment window. The study question is one that still necessitates investigation. Preliminary work to ameliorate the effect of the barriers encountered in this study is vital. TRIAL REGISTRATION: EudraCT 2014-002335-34, ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02398994 and Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN12127581. FUNDING: This project was funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 21, No. 31. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information. Funding was also received from Biotest AG, Germany (supply of IVIG) and the Transverse Myelitis Society (excess research cost to facilitate study initiation).

Original publication

DOI

10.3310/hta21310

Type

Journal article

Journal

Health Technol Assess

Publication Date

05/2017

Volume

21

Pages

1 - 50

Keywords

Adolescent, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Child, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Disability Evaluation, Female, Germany, Humans, Immunoglobulins, Intravenous, Male, Methylprednisolone, Middle Aged, Myelitis, Transverse, Quality of Life, Research Design, Single-Blind Method