Balloon disease: symptoms, causes and treatment

Balloon disease is a rare neurological disease, Similar to multiple sclerosis, which affects the myelin of the brain and produces symptoms such as muscle spasms, paralysis or seizures. It is a very debilitating disease which today is incurable.

In this article, we explain in more detail what the disease is, what are its causes, the symptoms it causes and the usual treatment indicated.

    What is balloon disease?

    Baló’s disease or Baló’s concentric sclerosis was described in 1928 by the Hungarian physician Jozsef Baló. It is a rare demyelinating disease (in which myelin, the protective layer of axons) is damaged, considered a variant of multiple sclerosis.

    The term “concentric sclerosis” is due to the presence of a pattern of concentric (circular) areas of damaged myelin which alternate with relatively intact areas of myelin in various areas of the brain and spinal cord.

    Balloon disease is usually acute and affects young adults, as with multiple sclerosis. with rapid progression until the person’s death. However, cases have also been reported in which a gradual course has been given, partial or even total remissions, both spontaneously and followed by conventional therapeutic treatments.

    This rare disease affects both men and women, and its incidence seems to be more frequent in people of oriental origin, Mainly from countries like China and the Philippines.

      Causes and diagnosis

      Although the causes of Baló’s disease and its variants are unknown today, studies indicate that autoimmune factors may play a major role in their development.

      Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s natural defenses against foreign or invasive organisms begin to attack healthy tissue for unknown reasons, causing inflammation (swelling).

      The causes of the cure observed in some patients who have received or not the treatment indicated for Baló disease are also not currently known. there is still a lot to study.

      Years ago, the diagnosis of this disease was obtained after performing the autopsy on the deceased patient. However, today, with new neuroimaging techniques, the earliest detection of the disorder is already possible.

      Professionals are generally based on consistent and specific clinical signs and symptoms, Try to rule out other neurological diseases. Magnetic resonance imaging shows the concentric rings characteristic of this disease.

      Symptoms of the disease

      The characteristic symptoms of balloon disease vary depending on the areas of the brain affected. Demyelinating lesions in the brain can be localized to any area (Brain, cerebellum or brainstem).

      Sessions usually consist of irregular demyelination patches that extend in a series of concentric circles, as we saw at the start. The symptoms caused by the disease are very varied: persistent headache, progressive paralysis, involuntary muscle spasms, convulsions, intellectual disability and cognitive loss or impairment.

      The symptoms caused by Balon’s disease can be very debilitating for the sufferer and can seriously threaten their life, progressing rapidly in a few weeks or on the contrary progressing more slowly in 2 or 3 years.


      Due to the low incidence of a disorder such as balloon disease and the limited number of cases described, no systematic studies have been conducted for the treatment of the disease.

      Usual treatment is the same as that applied to people with multiple sclerosis outbreaks; that is, the consumption of corticosteroids at high doses to reduce the severity of acute presentations, thanks to their anti-inflammatory actions. The use of immunosuppressive drugs seems to be indicated by the associated poor prognosis.

      Treatment to relieve symptoms such as spasticity, weakness, pain or ataxia, includes pharmacological and rehabilitation modalities. However, Baló’s disease has a fatal course and does not have episodes of exacerbation and remission, as is the case with multiple sclerosis.

      related disorders

      Balloon disease shares symptoms with another set of neurological diseases, so knowing which ones is important to make a correct diagnosis.

      1. Adrenoleukodystrophy

      This is a rare inherited metabolic disorder characterized by cerebral demyelination and progressive degeneration of the adrenal gland.

      Symptoms of this disorder include: generalized muscle weakness (hypotonia), exaggerated reflex responses (hyperreflexia), reduced ability to coordinate movements (ataxia), partial spastic paralysis and / or tingling or burning sensations in the arms or legs.

      2. Multiple sclerosis

      Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that causes the destruction of myelin or demyelination of the brain.

      The course of the disorder is variable because the patient may relapse, remission of symptoms or stabilize. Symptoms of this disease include double vision (diplopia), rhythmic involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), slurred speech, numbness in the arms and legs, difficulty walking, etc.

      3. Canavan Leukodystrophy

      It is a rare inherited type of leukodystrophy characterized by progressive degeneration of the central nervous system. Symptoms include progressive mental retardation with increased muscle tone (hypertension), enlarged brain (megalocephaly), poor head control and / or blindness.

      Symptoms usually start in childhood and may include a general lack of interest in daily life (listlessness), muscle weakness (hypotonia), and loss of previously acquired mental and motor skills. As the disease progresses, there may be spastic muscle contractions in the arms and legs, lack of muscle strength in the neck, inflammation of the brain (megalocephaly), and paralysis.

      4. Alexander disease

      Alexander disease is an extremely rare progressive metabolic disorder, often inherited. It is one of the subtypes of leukodystrophy. This disorder is characterized by demyelination and the formation of abnormal fibers (Rosenthal fibers) in the brain.

      Symptoms of this disease can include muscle spasms, mental deterioration and / or growth retardation. Most babies with Alexander disease have abnormally large heads (megalencephaly), lack of growth, and seizures.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Karaaslan I, Altintas A, Senol O et al. Belo concentric sclerosis: clinical and radiological features of five cases. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2001; 22: 1362-1367
      • Shankar SK, Rao TV, Srivastas VK, Narula S, Asha T, concentric sclerosis Das S. Balo: a variant of multiple sclerosis associated with oligodendroglioma. Neurosurgery 1989; 25: 982-986

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