What is Neurosarcoidosis?
Neurosarcoidosis is a chronic disease of the nervous system characterized by inflammation and abnormal cell deposits in the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. The inflammation can destroy the coating of nerves, disrupting the flow of electrical impulses and reducing body function. It is a type of sarcoidosis, a chronic inflammatory disorder that usually affects the lungs, but this type most commonly occurs in cranial nerves, facial nerves, the hypothalamus, and the pituitary gland.
What Causes Neurosarcoidosis?
While the cause of neurosarcoidosis is unknown, genetics, infections, and immune system disorders are thought to contribute. Patients are typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.
What are the Symptoms of Neurosarcoidosis?
Neurosarcoidosis symptoms may include pain, headaches, and fatigue. Depending on where the inflammation occurs, patients may experience confusion, seizures, mood changes, vision impairments, excessive thirst, excessive urination, hearing loss, loss of smell, speech impairment, and muscle weakness. Weakness of the facial muscles is common in neurosarcoidosis, and can include Bell’s palsy, or weakness on one side of the face. Shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes, and weight loss may also occur. Symptoms are not limited to neurological symptoms and can be gradual or sudden.
How is Neurosarcoidosis Diagnosed?
A combination of tests will be used to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy of the lungs or another organ will be conducted to check for granulomas. Imaging, such as a CT, MRI or PET scan, will be used to examine the central nervous system. A lumbar puncture may also be conducted to determine whether there are elevated levels of protein and lymphocytes in cerebrospinal fluid.
How is Neurosarcoidosis Treated?
In some cases, neurosarcoidosis may resolve without any treatment. For other patients, corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs may be used to relieve inflammation and control symptoms. Your doctor will discuss the side effects of those medications. Many patients with neurosarcoidosis recover completely, but others may experience symptoms that progress throughout their life. Your neurologist may discuss possible clinical trial participation with you.
What you can expect at UTHealth Neurosciences
UTHealth Neurosciences brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. Your team will share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. You will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.
We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.
At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.