Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler Christmas 2012: Yesterday’s World

An early British case of neuromyelitis optica (1850)

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 17 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6430
  1. Sven Jarius, neuroimmunologist,
  2. Brigitte Wildemann, head of division
  1. 1Division of Molecular Neuroimmunology, Department of Neurology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  1. sven.jarius{at}

The term neuromyelitis optica (Devic’s syndrome) refers to the co-occurrence of acute myelitis and optic neuritis. Regarded for many decades as a clinical variant of multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica has only very recently been recognized as a disease in its own right with distinct pathogenesis, prognosis, and treatment.

While the history of classic multiple sclerosis has been studied extensively, little is known about the early history of neuromyelitis optica. Here we would like to draw readers’ attention to a now forgotten early British case, which appeared in 1850 in the precursor of the BMJ, the Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal, as part of a series of “Brief notes of medical cases,”1 …

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