central pontine myelinolysismedical dictionary

<neurology> A condition characterised by damage to the myelin (sheath) layer of nerve cells in the pons (brainstem).

The destruction of myelin inhibits the conduction of a nerve impulse along a nerve cell. The most common cause for exacerbating this condition is a rapid correction of hyponatraemia (low blood sodium level). Some conditions such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcoholism can predispose to loss of myelin.

Symptoms can include weakness, double vision, muscle spasms, speech difficulty, delirium, sleepiness, hallucinations, tremors and uncontrolled eye movements. An MRI scan of the brain can demonstrate the abnormality. A more slow controlled correction of serum sodium levels is necessary in these patients. There is no definitive treatment for the underlying disorder.

(12 Jan 1998)