Intraepidermal nerve fibre density, quantitative sensory testing and nerve conduction studies in a patient material with symptoms and signs of sensory polyneuropathy.Eur J Neurol. 2006 Feb; 13(2):105-11.EJ
Small diameter nerve fibre (SDNF) neuropathy is an axonal sensory neuropathy affecting unmyelinated (C) and thin myelinated (A-delta) fibres. We have evaluated 75 patients with symptoms and signs suggesting SDNF dysfunction with or without symptoms and signs of co-existing large diameter nerve fibre involvement. The patients were examined clinically and underwent skin biopsy, quantitative sensory testing (QST) and nerve conduction studies (NCS). The purpose of this study was to compare the relationship between the different methods and in particular measurements of thermal thresholds and intraepidermal nerve fibre (IENF) density in the same site of the distal leg. The main subdivision of the patient material was made according to the overall NCS pattern. Patients with normal NCS (38) had 6.4 +/- 3.8 and patients with abnormal NCS (37) had 4.4 +/- 3.4 IENF per mm (P = 0.02). Limen (difference between warm and cold perception thresholds) was significantly higher (more abnormal) in those with abnormal than in those with normal NCS (22.1 +/- 9.1 vs. 13.4 +/- 5.6, P < 0.0001). Cold perception threshold was more abnormal (P < 0.0001) than warm perception threshold (P = 0.002). Correlation between IENF and QST was statistically significant only when NCS was abnormal, and thus dependent of a more severe neuropathic process in SDNFs.