Acute disseminated encephalitis and encephalomyelitis (ADEM) digital illustration

Acute disseminated encephalitis and encephalomyelitis (ADEM) Save

ICD-10 code: G04.0

Chapter: Diseases of the nervous system

What is Acute Disseminated Encephalitis and Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)?

Acute disseminated encephalitis and encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. ADEM causes inflammation and damage to the myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. This results in a variety of neurological symptoms such as confusion, vision problems, and difficulty moving.

What Causes ADEM?

The exact cause of ADEM is unknown. However, it is believed to be triggered by an abnormal immune response to a viral or bacterial infection or a vaccination. ADEM can also occur spontaneously without any identifiable trigger. It is more common in children and young adults, and affects males more than females.

Symptoms of ADEM

The symptoms of ADEM can vary from person to person, but typically include:

  1. Headache
  2. Fever
  3. Confusion
  4. Seizures
  5. Weakness or numbness in the limbs
  6. Difficulty coordinating movements
  7. Visual disturbances
  8. Sensory changes
  9. Difficulty speaking or swallowing
Diagnosing ADEM

Diagnosing ADEM can be challenging because its symptoms can resemble those of other neurological conditions. A thorough medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests such as MRI scans and lumbar puncture are used to diagnose ADEM.

Treatment for ADEM

Treatment for ADEM typically involves high-dose steroids such as prednisone to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. In some cases, other immunosuppressive medications may be used. Rehabilitation therapy such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy may also be helpful in managing symptoms and improving function.


ADEM is a rare but serious neurological condition that can cause a range of symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent further damage to the central nervous system and improve outcomes. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of ADEM, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.