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Rasmussen Encephalitis


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NORD is very grateful to W. Mathern, MD, Professor and Neurosurgical Director, Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program, Departments of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Medicine, Mattel Children's Hospital, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA; William Davis Gaillard, MD, Professor, Pediatrics and Neurology, George Washington University School of Medicine, Professor Neurology, Georgetown University, Chief, Epilepsy, Neurophysiology, and Critical Care Neurology, Children's National Medical Center, Associate Director, Center for Neuroscience Research, Children's Research Institute; J Helen Cross, The Prince of Wales's Chair of Childhood Epilepsy UCL-Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children & Young Epilepsy and Head of Neurosciences Unit, UCL-Institute of Child Health, London, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Rasmussen Encephalitis

  • chronic encephalitis and epilepsy
  • chronic localized (focal) encephalitis
  • epilepsy, hemiplegia and intellectual disabilities
  • Rasmussen syndrome (RE)

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Rasmussen encephalitis, sometimes referred to as Rasmussen syndrome, is a rare disorder of the central nervous system characterized by chronic inflammation (encephalitis) of one hemisphere of the brain. As a result, the patient experiences frequent episodes of uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain that cause epileptic seizures (epilepsy). Further symptoms may include progressive weakness of one side of the body (hemiparesis), language problems (if on the left side of the brain) and intellectual disabilities. The exact cause of this disorder is not known. The two leading ideas are that the brain inflammation might be a reaction of a foreign antigen (infection) or an autoimmune disease limited to one side of the brain resulting in brain damage.

It occurs mostly, but not always, in children between the ages of two and ten years, and in many cases the course of the disease is most severe during the first 8 to 12 months. After the peak inflammatory response is reached, the progression of this disorder appears to slow or stop and the patient is left with permanent neurological deficits.

Rasmussen Encephalitis Resources


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