Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, often in optic nerves and the spinal cord.

It is important to diagnose NMOSD separately from Multiple Sclerosis because the treatments and therapies can be different. The symptoms of the two diseases may be similar, but NMOSD is a separate disease from MS.

NMOSD affects approximately 15,000 people in the U.S and presents similarly for children and adults.

NMOSD has the potential for flares or relapses. Prognosis is based largely on early recognition of the disease, and appropriate treatment of acute flares and continual preventative maintenance.

Patients with NMOSD can be seen in the outpatient practice of the University of Maryland Center for Multiple Sclerosis. Please call 410-328-4323 for an appointment with one of our experts.

Neuromyelitis Optica Characteristics

  • Confusion, language dysfunction, weakness, vision loss
  • Double vision, speech changes, hearing changes, swallowing changes, weakness and coordination problems
  • Hypothermia, anorexia with weight loss, excessive need to sleep
  • Uncontrollable nausea and vomiting
  • Vision loss, eye pain
  • Weakness, sensory changes, loss of bladder control, pain

Diagnostic Studies

UMMC's Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research specializes in diagnosing, treating and managing NMOSD. Diagnostic testing often involves Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), blood tests and in some cases lumbar puncture for cerebrospinal fluid testing. Our physicians collect a comprehensive patient history and perform complete neurological examinations in determining suspected NMOSD.

Treating Neuromyelitis Optica

For acute flares of NMOSD, there are several options for treatment, including high dose intravenous steroids and plasma treatment (plasmapheresis).

For preventative maintenance in NMOSD, treatment options include oral steroids, mycophenolate (CellCept), azathioprine (Imuran), blood treatment (intravenous immunoglobulin) and rituximab (Rituxan).