Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) Diagnosis

The symptoms of PML grow worse over time. It can be a few weeks or perhaps a few months, before death almost inevitably occurs. The disease is diagnosed after the following symptoms occur and worsen in patients whose immune systems are compromised:

  • Clumsiness and problems with coordination
  • Headaches
  • Arms and legs become progressively weaker
  • Problems with memory
  • Loss of ability to speak
  • Cognitive problems

Other ways to help with diagnosis of PML is to do certain tests, including:

  • Tests of the cerebrospinal fluid for the John Cunningham virus (JVC)
  • Computed tomography (CT) brain scan
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Molecular resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain
  • A biopsy of the brain, which is rarely done

When to Go to the Doctor

Only certain persons are susceptible to getting PML. What they all have in common is a compromised immune system. These include patients with AIDS; people who have certain types of lymphatic cancers including Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, and lymphoma; people who have certain immunodeficient disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus; survivors of organ transplantation; and people who take immunosuppressive drugs to treat multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and related conditions.

If you are among this group of immunocompromised patients and begin to have symptoms such as those listed above that worsen, you should see your doctor. Those most likely to be helped are AIDS patients whose drug regimen is changed to take medication that does not as severely compromise the immune system.

What is PML?

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML for short, is a condition in which the myelin or protective covering of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord is destroyed. The myelin is destroyed by a common virus that exists in most of us but does not become dangerous until the immune system is compromised.

The virus, called the John Cunningham virus, is believed to live in the kidneys. hen something, such as AIDS harms the immune system, the virus is activated. It then travels through the circulatory system to the brain where it begins its destructive process. The disorder has increased five-fold since the advent of the AIDS virus.

Legal Help for PML Patients

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with PML after taking a drug such as Raptiva®, Tysabri® or Rituxan™, our PML attorneys may be able to help you seek compensation. Contact us for information about your case.

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