Susac's Syndrome

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Susac's Syndrome is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Summary
Susac's syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by three main problems: impaired brain function (encephalopathy), partial or complete blockage (occlusion) of the arteries that supply blood to the retina (branch retinal artery occlusion, or BRAO), and inner ear disease (hearing loss, most notably).

Summary
Susac's syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by three main problems: impaired brain function (encephalopathy), partial or complete blockage (occlusion) of the small arteries that supply blood to the retina (branch retinal artery occlusion, or BRAO), and inner ear disease (hearing loss, most notably).

Three main forms of Susac's syndrome have become apparent. In one form, encephalopathy is the main problem. In the second form, BRAO and hearing loss are the main problems, and there is little or no brain disease. In the third form, encephalopathy is the main problem in the beginning, but recurrent episodes of BRAO and hearing loss become the main problem after the encephalopathy goes away.

The encephalopathic form of Susac's syndrome often resolves spontaneously (often going away within 1-3 years). The other forms tend to follow a more prolonged, more chronic course (3-10 years, or more). All forms require immunosuppressive treatment while the disease is active.

Introduction
Although considered rare, Susac's syndrome is being recognized more often worldwide and its true frequency in the general population is unknown. This is because the disorder may be misdiagnosed, often as "atypical" multiple sclerosis.

Susac's syndrome is an autoimmune disease---specifically, an autoimmune endotheliopathy. "Autoimmune" means that a person's own immune system is mistakenly attacking one's own healthy tissue. An "endotheliopathy" is any disorder that involves injury to the endothelium, which is the thin layer of cells that line the inner walls of blood vessels. In Susac's syndrome, the person's own immune system is mistakenly attacking the endothelial lining of the smallest blood vessels (the capillaries, venules and arterioles) in the brain, retina, and inner ear. When the endothelial cells become injured, they tend to swell, and this endothelial cell swelling plays a key role in the partial or complete occlusion (blockage) of the tiny vessels in the brain, retina and inner ear. This blockage results in decreased blood flow through the vessels and, therefore, decreased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, retina, and inner ear---causing these three organs to suffer.

Supporting Organizations

American Academy of Audiology

11480 Commerce Park Drive
Suite 220
Reston, VA 20191
Tel: 703-790-8466
Fax: 703-790-8631
Tel: 800-222-2336
Email: infoaud@audiology.org
Website: http://www.audiology.org

American Autoimmune & Related Diseases

22100 Gratiot Ave.
Eastpointe, MI 48021
Tel: (586)776-3900
Fax: (586)776-3903
Tel: (800)598-4668
Email: aarda@aarda.org
Website: http://www.aarda.org/

Better Hearing Institute

1444 I Street NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
United States
Tel: (202)449-1100
Fax: (703)684-6048
Tel: (800)327-9355
Email: mail@betterhearing.org
Website: http://www.betterhearing.org

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Hearing Loss Association of America

7910 Woodmont Avenue
Suite 1200
Bethesda, MD 20814
Tel: (301)657-2248
Fax: (301)913-9413
Email: info@hearingloss.org
Website: http://www.hearingloss.org

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
Website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  5/21/2015
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.