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Autoimmune and inflammatory disorders of the central nervous system can result in significant morbidity and mortality. Through the recognition of syndromes using diagnostic biomarkers, the clinician is now able to use immune suppressive therapies to improve outcomes. However, the therapeutic decision-making process is complex. The clinician has to balance the risk of disease, with the risk of treatment side effects. To achieve this balance, it is important to understand the natural history of disease, the risk of residual disability, the risk of relapse, and risk of a fatal outcome. It is also important to have some understanding of the pathological processes, as some of the entities have more reversible processes, whereas others have destructive processes. This review will assess the dynamic nature of this decision-making process, and compare some of the more severe diseases such as neuromyelitis optica, anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis and opsoclonus myoclonus ataxia syndrome, with disorders with more favourable outcomes such as Sydenham chorea and post-infectious cerebellar ataxia.
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