How Is Neurosarcoidosis Diagnosed and Treated?
Your doctor can determine if you have neurosarcoidosis by taking a detailed medical history, conducting a physical exam, and performing several tests. The tests used in diagnosing neurosarcoidosis may include:
- Blood tests
- Magnetic resonance scan (MRI)
- Scans using radioactive elements.
Treatment for neurosarcoidosis depends on your symptoms and how severe they are. Nerve tissue heals slowly, so treatment often takes a long time. You may need to take several drugs at high doses for a period of time.
The primary neurosarcoidosis treatment is prednisone, a corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory) drug. It's usually given for many months, sometimes even for a year or two. When used for a long time at high doses, prednisone can cause serious side effects, including:
It can also affect the body's production of certain hormones.
Other medications may be used to treat neurosarcoidosis if your condition gets worse while you are taking prednisone, or if you can't tolerate the side effects. Most of these other drugs are immunosuppressants that can also cause serious side effects.
One such medicine is cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®). Cyclophosphamide is a potent medicine; it can cause nausea and a decrease in your white blood cell levels. Your doctor should check your white blood cell levels often while you are taking this drug to make sure you have a high-enough level to fight infection.
It can also irritate your bladder. Some people who have taken it for more than two years have developed bladder cancer.
If you are pregnant, you should not take this drug.
Cyclophosphamide can be given intravenously (through one of your veins), which lessens some of its side effects, but this doesn't reduce the risk of cancer.